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.
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.
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…)
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…)
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.”
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!
I was eating dinner with my boyfriend in our kitchen watching a Facebook live stream debate about guns on campus at the University of Texas when suddenly the video stopped. A pop up said something like, “Session expired.”
Someone reported a photo of me my friends at the beach as nudity, and Facebook responded by restricting my ability to communicate with you on their platform in two ways. I can not post on my wall or respond to messages using Messenger for the next 3 days.
I feel sad that I can’t use Facebook. It is the primary way I communicate with the world. Especially the Messenger app. An acquaintance I met at a conference asked me a question, and I am not able to respond. I am not even able to explain why I can’t respond. That is embarrassing and frustrating. I want to maintain a good reputation with this new friend, but I can’t respond to him, and he doesn’t know that I can’t. Fortunately I have been using Signal, Telegram, and other messaging apps, so I am still largely able to communicate. (more…)
The epic feature-length documentary was shot and edited during the end of the heaviest period for civil disobedience activism in Keene and does an excellent job capturing the spirit of the times. DJVCS has inspired countless liberty activists of all stripes to move to New Hampshire.
No, not that Salem. This past Monday I went to Rich Paul’s hearing. I have been in court in New Hampshire before, and have seen videos of court proceedings in New Hampshire. I am fairly sure that most, if not all of these, took place in Keene. I have lived in New Hampshire for a little over seven months and so far my impression of the gang is that they tend to play by their own rules and they are one of the least oppressive gangs I have come across. Not freedom by any means, but better than anything I had ever hoped to see.
That characterization of Keene, NH or NH might not be a fair representation of the entire story. No gang leader wakes up one day and says “Hey, I think maybe I’ll start following at least the Constitution, quit making illegal arrests, and be somewhat less oppressive.” I’m just really happy, and still somewhat in disbelief, about the fact that I can walk around on the sidewalk, drive at night, tell jurors about nullification *on state “property*,” and warn people about checkpoints in complete safety. I don’t have people walking up to me telling me I look suspicious with their gun half-drawn. But you don’t get that way for nothing. Since we don’t have the resources (and some of us don’t have the philosophical consistency) to actually get rid of the problem, people who came before me had to fight issues up and bring attention to problems to the point where the State decided that the best thing to do is retreat.
So it makes sense to me that Keene is less un-free than Salem. When we walked into court one of the guards asked Ian what his camera was (it was in a bag, so it wasn’t obviously a camera). They then asked if there was anything going on that they didn’t know about. In Tammany they would have just not let him in with it, and presently in Keene I’m pretty sure they would have just let him in. In Salem they asked him for press credentials- which is utterly legally irrelevant. The guard at the security checkpoint directed us to a line of people, which was really confusing to me. I had assumed that we’d be walking into a court room. I found out that it was a line to talk to the prosecutor- before making an appearance. One person seemed to me to have an attorney. This seemed highly problematic to me as your first appearance is typically when you figure out what you are going to do about an attorney. People were signing pleas before they ever saw a judge, an attorney, or the inside of a courtroom. I heard the prosecutor tell one person that if he didn’t plea today then the penalty would be higher, and he was generally discouraging people from seeking lawyers or hearings. It would be illegal for a judge to do this.
We got to the front of the line and walked into the room. I was honestly worried about the prosecutor not wanting to let extra people in, but I walked in like I owned the place and that seemed to be what the rest of us did. The prosecutor immediately told Ian that he needed to get the camera out of there. Rich responded that he wanted it to be filmed. At which point the prosecutor refused to talk to him because “I’m not going to be filmed.” He told Rich that he would talk to him “out there.” I’m not sure where “there” is or why its better to be filmed at that location than in the office. More importantly, I’m not sure why the prosecutor would be opposed to having plea offers filmed. Nothing can realistically be taken out of context because courthouses tend to… keep records of things. None of the parties were underage, none of the victims were underage or otherwise protected (or existing) so its not sealed. And prosecutors are lawyers; the law is their job- they don’t have the usual excuse that there is some obscure or asinine law that they don’t know about while doing their job.
Then we went into the courtroom, which had the pervasive appearance of being a revenue stream. (Some government agencies attempt to hide that sort of thing.) I had to watch the camera for a while and two prosecutors, for whatever reason, decided to stand against the back wall and kept standing closer to me. I don’t know for sure that this was intended to be intimidating, but there didn’t seem to be any other reason for it. When Ian got back I went and sat down. Even though I had my phone on silent, the alarm went off. I turned it off as quickly as possible as I have this fear of State agents. If I had been in Tammany, they would have taken the phone and fined me a minimum of $50. To their credit the, I’m assuming he was a bailiff, just told me to take it out and come back once I’m not using it. I don’t think that I saw a single defense attorney in the entire courtroom. In fact, I hope that that’s the case because all of the lawyers that I did see appeared to be operating as prosecutors. (Unfortunately, if you have crappy defense attorneys sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference.) The charge was dropped to just below New Hampshire’s threshold for requiring a jury.