The New Hampshire legislature never passed a law stating that Merry Man Graham Colson was banned in the Keene Common known commonly as Central Square. Despite this, Graham was issued a ‘No Tresapassing’ order from the square, which he believes is because he was riding a skateboard there. In an order issued by KPD’s Jason Short on May 10 2012, Graham is explicitly banned from ‘the common referred to as Central Square Keene NH 03431’. Aside from this ban, Graham has been neither charged nor convicted of a crime related to the town common. Last Thursday, he was arrested on a warrant while in the downtown for allegedly having been in the common on the previous day.
On April 22, Graham and I took an adventure into legal land to accomplish two tasks. First, we travelled to the Keene police department to obtain a copy of the original order, which was refused when originally issued last year. Then we crossed town to drop off a discovery request with the district court clerk at city hall, and the prosecutor’s office at the county courthouse. Demonstrating how common violations of petty rules on the common are, during the drive we observe a youth casually longboarding through the square.
Sergeant Jason Short was who issued the disputed order in May of last year, and he is also who the records department at the PD summoned simply to hand Graham a piece of paper which the clerk should have had full access to. In my interactions with Jason in the past, both on and off camera, I’ve found him to be one of the more personable officers. He is usually willing to have a open conversation about law, although willing to arrest you for offenses that he readily admits cause him no grievance. When Jason entered the PD lobby to hand Graham the paper, he wore a pokerface and his lips were sealed. When I tried to ask a question about the prosecutor’s office, I was ignored. It was unfortunate to see such a short Jason Short, though I speculate it was because he knows how unfounded the initial order was. When the clerk stated that she would be summoning Jason to retreive the order for Graham, I assumed it was because he would have some explanation beyond the piece of paper he would be handing off. For what other reason would a busy sergeant be summoned if just to hand off a piece of paper while otherwise ignoring civilians? The twenty-three or so minutes we spent waiting were our gift to our noble protectors.
The decision to arrest Graham was carefully considered by elements within the city — some rumors even point to the edict being handed down by Prince John and/or the King himself. In any case, the arrest comes as a victory for the Parking Force, as the witnesses of Graham’s alleged trespassing are two of the city’s three parking enforcers. As witnesses against him, an order of no contact and maintaining a distance of 100 yards from the city employees has been implemented until the trial, virtually removing his ability to go Robin Hooding within the kingdom of Keene. Additionally, the trespassing order in Central Square was renewed for another year. Prince John’s men have endless tricks, but we shall see what the King’s court thinks of their ambitious actions.