4/20: State Representatives Smoke Cannabis at NH State House with Crowd of 100+

Several longtime cannabis freedom activists at the 2017 Concord smoke-out.

Several longtime cannabis freedom activists at the 2017 Concord smoke-out.

Since 2009, on April 20th at 4:20pm people from across New Hampshire gather in front of the State House in Concord to commit mass civil disobedience by smoking, vaporizing, or otherwise consuming cannabis in public. As has happened in previous years, we were again joined by multiple state representatives including Libertarian Caleb Dyer of Pelham, NH as well as Keene’s Ward One Democrat, Joseph Stallcop, and Republican Glen Aldrich of Gilford.

Representatives Dyer and Stallcop were both featured speakers and also toked up with a crowd of over 100 people while representative Aldrich took photos, as he has done for years at the rally. Also photographing the event was Granite Haze of Mind blogger Justin Campagnone – you can check out his albums here. I had the honor of video recording the event, including all the speakers. I’ll be posting each speech to the Free Keene YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe and click the notification bell on the YouTube channel to see the videos as they are released! Meanwhile, here’s a video with some highlights of the event to tide you over:

This year’s event began with speakers at 3pm including representatives Dyer & Stallcop, me explaining the right of Jury Nullification, and Libertarian Party of NH chairman Darryl W Perry. The overcast weather threatened rain which thankfully never materialized and the temperature was cool and pleasant with a couple dozen already in attendance at 3pm by the street, smoking cannabis and chalking messages on the pavement. As we closed in on 4:20pm (the time that cannabis is used in celebration globally) the numbers of attendees swelled to easily over 100 people.

Just a portion of the excellent crowd, photos courtesy Justin Campagnone

Just a portion of the excellent crowd, photos courtesy Justin Campagnone

Event organizer and executive director of the 420 Foundation, Shire Dude emceed (and live streamed) the event. As the crowd gathered directly in front of the state house close to 4:20, we heard from speakers including Carla Gericke of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, the executive director of the NH Cannabis Freedom Festival, Rick Naya, and medical cannabis consultant John Padellaro who told us how cannabis helped him with his inoperable brain growth. Padellaro also said, “I don’t support legalization. I support ending prohibition.” This sentiment was echoed by speakers Perry and Gericke, with Gericke also calling on New Hampshire’s new governor, Chris Sununu, to pardon all peaceful drug offenders and end funding for “Granite Hammer”. Perry and representative Dyer’s speeches focused on the current legal status and future of cannabis reform in New Hampshire while Naya reflected on the previous 420 rallies and people we’ve lost to prohibition. In his off-the-cuff speech, representative Stallcop of Keene told the attendees, “we need to stop looking at each other in terms of left or right. I see, in all honesty, there is right and there is wrong…We will stand together as one people and say that this is our decision, this is our choice.” (more…)

NH 420 Rally Broadcasts Civil Disobedience

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The livestream will be from 3:00 to 4:20pm EST.

Activists gather at the statehouse in Concord, New Hampshire. They convene annually to protest cannabis prohibition. This year’s rally is the first to be hosted by the 420 Foundation‘s new Executive Director, Shire Dude. Hey, that’s me!

To promote the event, I personally invited Chief Nick Willard of the Manchester Police Department. I have yet to receive his RSVP.

This is a live event. If the video below is not live, you can access archived footage on my Bambuser account.


Funding for this broadcast is provided by viewers like you.

After the 420 rally, check the livestream again, at about 10:00pm. The Manchester Police Department has announced a checkpoint. If there is one, I intend to broadcast the response from Manchester activists.

Cheshire Sheriff Heroically Nullifies Immigration Enforcers, Creating NH’s Only Sanctuary County!

Sheriff Eli Rivera

Sheriff Eli Rivera

Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera has been making headlines this week for his compassionate stance against working with federal immigration enforcers. Rivera, a longtime fixture in the community and multi-term sheriff, announced via his website last week:

After taking some time to reflect on this current issue, as Sheriff, I’ve decided that the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office will not seek to enter into an agreement with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) to enforce federal immigrations laws. Furthermore, we will not participate in raids, stings or operations that are solely intended at locating an undocumented person or persons. Any representative of ICE requesting our assistance must have an active criminal warrant issued by a judge or must be actively pursuing a criminal investigation that relates to public safety for us to participate.

It’s a welcome policy in a place where being brown or black makes one stick out like a sore thumb, given the population here in Cheshire County is about 96% white.

According to the Sentinel’s report on Rivera’s announcement Keene Police’s acting chief, Steve Russo has yet to comment on the issue, but his late predecessor Brian Costa‘s position was similar to Rivera’s, saying, “We have no interest going forward, nor do we have the resources for deputizing our officers as part of ICE to go out and seek illegal or undocumented immigrants…We govern ourselves by our mission statement”, which says KPD is “to protect life and property and to maintain order within the City while assuring fair and respectful treatment of everyone.”

Costa said of that mission statement in his interview with the Sentinel earlier this month, prior to his untimely passing, “It’s not just a group of words…It’s how we do business.”

Brian Costa

KPD’s Late Chief Brian Costa

It sounds like Sheriff Rivera is on the same page as Costa. In his excellent statement, Rivera continues:

In addition, we will not ask a person their immigration status or detain a person based on an administrative civil detainer that is not issued by a judge. As Sheriff, I do not want undocumented immigrants to fear the Sheriff’s Office, instead I want them to be able to approach and speak to any of my deputies without the fear that they will be turned over to ICE. If in the course of our duties we happen to come across an undocumented person we will handle each encounter in a way we deem appropriate for each situation…

 

If you are an undocumented person in Cheshire County and feel uncertain about approaching law enforcement for fear they will turned you over to ICE, feel free to call me, Sheriff Eli Rivera, at the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the WMUR report on Rivera’s policy, some control-freak politicians are butthurt over this. Good. Unlike those cowardly politicians, kudos to Rivera for having the courage to do the right thing and truly protect the people of Cheshire county from the evil hands of the federal government. It would be better of course if Rivera would also stop cooperating with the feds on other victimless crime enforcement, like the insane War on Drugs, but this is a BIG step in the right direction.

I’m glad to live in a place where law enforcement acts more human, more often, than anywhere else I’ve ever been. You’ve got Rick Van Wickler, Cheshire County’s jail superintendent who is also a longtime speaker at Law Enforcement Action Partnership, a compassionate group of mostly former police which you may remember as being previously called, “Law Enforcement Against Prohibition” until they expanded their mission to include other issues where police reform is badly needed,  Van Wickler has been a constant presence in Concord at state house hearings about drug legalization, speaking strongly in favor of any efforts to end prohibition in New Hampshire.  He also runs his jail much more compassionately than the supermajority of the others in the United States.  Add to that, a relatively calm and approachable group of Keene police, and now this excellent news from Sheriff Rivera.

Thank you, Eli. You’ve earned my vote in the next election. The land known as Cheshire county in the Shire should be a sanctuary for all peaceful people. Your immigration policy helps us get closer to that ideal. Next step, NH seceding from the United States! Viva New Hampshire!

UBER Grandma Interviewed After Facing Down $6,500 in Fines for Civil Disobedience

Tuesday morning the saga of UBER Grandma came to a close at Portsmouth district court. Stephanie Franz’ trial was scheduled for seven tickets she’s received since October of 2015 for the horrible crime of driving people places without a government permission slip. Rather than thank her for providing the service of getting drunk people home alive (and stopping them from driving themselves home drunk), the “City of Portsmouth” gang decided to ticket her seven times for a total of $6,500! $500 for the first ticket, $1000 each for the rest.

Check out this excellent interview of this courageous civil disobedience activist, recorded outside Portsmouth district court, then keep reading for details on the case:

The city’s argument for threatening the sweet grandmother and other UBER drivers with such ridiculous fines was the claim that more stringent background checks than what UBER provides are necessary to keep passengers safe. However, this argument is obvious garbage, as the city only regulates drivers who charge for their services. If a convicted murderer were to offer rides for free, the regulations wouldn’t apply. Portsmouth’s anti-ride-sharing regulations, passed in Summer of 2015, were created to protect the existing taxi oligopoly. That’s what regulations are really for – not to protect consumers as the government claims, but to protect the established businesses from innovative competition.

Indeed, the cabbies in Portsmouth were the loudest group in support of the regulations. UBER Grandma was also targeted by those same cab drivers. They had been witnessed boxing her in to the curb as she was picking up riders in downtown Portsmouth and even smashed out her tail-light. They also appeared at government hearings in Portsmouth and Concord advocating for more government control of the industry.

Despite the constant attacks by both the police and the cabbies, UBER Grandma was not deterred. She kept driving in civil disobedience to the city’s protectionist ordinances, knowing she had harmed no one, and in fact had helped many people get home safely. She’s a hero for continuing to stand up for her right to do business without asking for permission! (more…)

Toplessness or Violence: Which Is Immoral? (Weir Beach Motion to Dismiss)

On Friday October 14, in Laconia district court, Judge Carroll heard the Motion to Dismiss for the Free the Nipple case. This case is unusual, in that I am thoroughly convinced that everyone in that room believed they were right, and was not engaging in rationalization to so believe.

I was able to get statements from two of the ladies who were being aggressed against by the State:

“My biggest problem with today’s hearing is the prosecutor kept ignoring the gender/sex discrimination. Cities are allowed to make rules, they just can’t make rules that only apply to women, or black people, or gay people, or Muslim.” – Kia

“How you choose to wear your body is a body rights and property issue. If you don’t own your body what do you own? It’s just as degrading to ask a woman to put a shirt on as it is to ask her to take it off. Nudity is a natural spiritual choice; I personally stand before my creator unashamed as his artwork, and the same should apply to a woman who chooses to wear a hijab.” – Ginger

The attorney for the protestors argued that the Laconia ordinance prohibiting female toplessness was unconstitutional on the grounds that it discriminates against women and is not authorized by the New Hampshire Constitution. New Hampshire is not a home rule state, which means that towns and other subdivisions of the State may only pass laws on matters which they are authorized by the New Hampshire legislature. The State of New Hampshire has not authorized its subdivisions to legislate on the topic of nudity or toplessness. (more…)

Beer Pong Event Planned for Keene’s Railroad Square This Saturday!

Beer Pong Girls

Maybe it should be strip beer pong instead? Photo courtesy theCHIVE.

This Saturday, 9/17 at noon, activists will gather in Keene’s Railroad Square and play beer pong in protest of the open container ordinance. The event will be in the spirit of 2010’s Drinking Game, which resulted in my arrest in the city council chambers for “disorderly conduct”, but the charge later dropped. Inspired by the past actions, a new batch of movers to Keene will be taking up the banner of protesting the ridiculous ban on open containers of alcohol.

There are many towns and cities where open containers are allowed, including some right here in New Hampshire. Nearby Westmoreland, for instance, does not have an open container ordinance. The oppressive ordinance is just an excuse to target college students and poor people, give them tickets, and reap thousands of dollars into the system from the victims. It doesn’t stop drunk people from being on the streets, nor does it discourage them from drinking. The ordinance merely takes advantage of drunk people. It’s shameful and needs to be abolished.

I spoke with the beer pong event organizer, Bob Call, today about his motivations. He said, “I think the law is unjust and it’s ridiculous that you can sit outside at local businesses in Keene and consume alcoholic beverages legally, but not if you consume your own alcoholic beverage.”

Open Container Officer

Labeled containers are likely probable cause for a search. Don’t carry them around.

I’m no attorney, and this is not legal advice, but if you are ever targeted by police for a suspected open container of alcohol, DON’T CONSENT TO A SEARCH! This is the number-one mistake made by the police’s victims. Law enforcement officers are trained to intimidate. If you are walking with a drink in a bottle or cup that is not clearly an alcohol container, the officer will likely approach and say something like, “I have to ask you to hand that over.” At that point, most people will hand it over, consenting to a search of their container.

Take note of the careful wording of the officer’s statement. “Have to”, plus it being spoken in an authoritative manner makes is sound a lot like an order. However, it’s not. He says “ask”. If you’re ever uncertain about what an officer is saying, you have a right to ask, “Is that a request?” or whatever other questions you want. If you are clearly carrying am actual beer bottle, that’s likely enough probable cause for a search, and they won’t have to ask. On the other hand, if there is no clear way they could know by looking that it’s likely a container of alcohol, they have to get your consent to search. Don’t do consent. Politely decline their invitation, ask if you are free to go, and walk away.

See you Saturday 9/17 at noon at Railroad Square in downtown Keene for the beer pong event!