It has been a long road, but thanks to free speech attorney Jon Meyer and judge John C Kissinger of the Cheshire superior court, Keene’s Robin Hooders are again victorious! Nearly two years ago, the same court dismissed the two cases brought against the charitable meter-feeders, alleging we were “threatening, intimidating, and harassing” their parking enforcement officers and demanding a 50ft floating, constitution-free buffer zone to protect them.
Robin Hooders Victorious – AGAIN.
The city appealed to the NH supreme court which ultimately upheld the superior court’s dismissal except for one part. They affirmed the lower court’s ruling to dismiss based on free speech grounds, but said the superior court needed to look at the request for the “buffer zone” injunction separately from the allegations of “tortious interference”, “civil conspiracy”, “negligence”, and the demand for financial compensation, all of which the city failed to prove to the court’s satisfaction.
Thankfully, the superior court agreed with attorney Meyer’s arguments and denied the city’s request for any injunction against us whatsoever! This effectively kills their case, unless they decide to continue spending ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money to appeal this latest failure to the NH supreme court.
The city, which had originally wanted a 50 foot floating buffer zone around each enforcer that would prevent all speech and recording by the Robin Hooders, had whittled that down over the 2.5 years this has been in court to a 5-10ft zone that would only be temporary and only if the parking enforcer requested said distance from the Robin Hooder. Mind you, we generally do not wish to be so close to them – it’s best to fill meters at a greater distance, so as to have enough time to fill the meter and leave the Robin Hood calling card on the windshield, BEFORE the parking enforcer catches up to us and gets ahead. That would mean she could successfully write a ticket if she gets ahead, so having distance is my goal, but the enforcer is constantly trying to close that gap, so sometimes we do get within ten feet. That would mean that such an injunction (besides being unconstitutional) would also prevent us from Robin Hooding, as anytime the enforcer managed to close the gap, we’d be subject to arrest for “contempt of court”.
James Cleaveland, Attorney Jon Meyer, Ian Freeman
In a fifteen-page order issued on 11/20, Kissinger writes of the city’s request for injunction:
The Court cannot conceive of any more narrow or alternative relief that would provide any meaningful protection to the PEOs without running afoul of the Respondents’ First Amendment rights…the government interests here are not sufficient to warrant an infringement on the Respondents’ First Amendment rights. Any injunction requiring a buffer zone of any meaningful distance would require a significant change in the method used by the Respondents to disseminate their protected speech.
So, despite the city’s interests in their parking enforcement continuing unabated, their significantly-reduced proposal for injunction is still beyond what is constitutionally permissible, and further, the court could not think of any lesser restrictions that would pass constitutional muster.
Kissinger, in his conclusion, does remind the city that if Robin Hooders’ conduct is rising to the level of violating criminal statutes, that they can bring such charges. Of course, the reason they never have brought criminal harassment or assault charges is because Robin Hooders are peaceful. There is zero evidence of “harassment, threatening, or intimidating” – the claims the city has long libeled us with throughout this lawsuit.
In a classic case of projection, the people in this who are actually harassing, threatening, and intimidating others are the parking enforcers. They harass, threaten, and intimidate the good motorists of Keene six days a week by giving them threatening tickets for just trying to do some business downtown. Those tickets threaten, intimidate, and harass their victims into paying their fines so as to avoid the threat of having their car stolen. Talk about intimidation! This is why Robin Hood of Keene exists – we are here to save people from having to deal with the city’s threats. That’s always been the primary motivation, at least for me. I certainly don’t speak for everyone.
The poor, innocent parking enforcers.
If the parking enforcers don’t like being called out for their threatening, intimidating, and harassing behavior, they should get jobs in the productive economy. Until the city council ends the parking department and turns over the spaces to downtown businesses to decide how to administer, per market forces, Robin Hooding will continue to rescue peaceful motorists from the threats of the city government.
The city has 30 days to appeal this latest failure. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.
Thanks to David Brooks of the Concord Monitor’s “Granite Geek” blog for his coverage of the Keene Bitcoin Vending Machine’s first year of operation. In addition to the front page of the Monitor’s print edition, the story also appeared in the Valley News, covering the Upper Valley of NH.
Keene’s Bitcoin Vending Machine
Brooks gets his reporting mostly correct, though I don’t share his view that bitcoin is doing poorly. It’s arguably the strongest currency in the world at over $335 USD per BTC as of this writing, with a myriad of businesses accepting it online and as Brooks notes, a bunch of NH businesses. By no means has it skyrocketed in popularity among average folks, but we’re talking about a major change in money here – there’s a learning curve involved at this point. It’s important to keep things in perspective: Bitcoin was released to the world in 2009. It’s been six years – a drop in the bucket of time. Bitcoin is just getting started.
Bitcoin is also easier to use than ever before. In the beginning, it was only geeks who could access bitcoin. As it spread and investors and more entrepreneurs got involved, easy-to-use wallet software became available. Now, all you need to do to get started with Bitcoin is download a free wallet and drop by the Keene Bitcoin Vending Machine at 661 Marlboro Street in Keene (Route 101), or acquire bitcoin in various other ways. Visit Bitcoin.com to learn more.
Here’s a link to Brooks’ front-page story here on the Concord Monitor’s site.
On November 5th, 2014, the Shire Free Church launched Shire Bitcoin Vending when we placed our first Bitcoin Vending Machine at 101 Deals thrift store in Keene at 661 Marlboro St.
Keene’s Bitcoin Vending Machine
In April of 2015, the Keene machine was upgraded to the Lamassu brand Bitcoin Vending Machine. Lamassu is based in the Shire and run by Free State Project early movers. The original unit, the Skyhook brand, is used for special events.
Now, I’m happy to announce we have passed the one year mark of having a publicly-accessible BVM operating in Keene!
Our customers range from young to old from all across the Northeast, because sadly, the Keene BVM is the only publicly accessible BVM (or ATM) in all of ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI, and Upstate NY. New York, the Empire State, has cracked down on the bitcoin industry there, resulting Albany and Buffalo losing their machines in 2015 and for some reason all the units listed on the Coin ATM Radar site for Boston are shut off or gone (at least that’s what the customers who drive to Keene from Boston have told us.) Hopefully this will change, as not everyone is willing to drive for hours to purchase bitcoin.
It’s important to note that the Keene Bitcoin Vending Machine is not an ATM, though many confuse the two terms. The machine vends bitcoins for cash. It does not do the reverse. The machine is stocked with bitcoin (click to see our wallet’s status and all transactions) and sells from that stock. The BVM is not making buys on an exchange. Machines that do that have ridiculous identification requirements. Your bitcoin is your business and as a customer of the church, your privacy is respected. (While our machine does not require identification, there are security cameras monitoring the store premises.)
Come on out to the store and try the machine at 661 Marlboro Street (Route 101) in Keene, six days per week. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10a-6p and Sunday 11a-5p.
Dozens of liberty-loving people came together for the first day of New Hampshire’s only Fall freedom convention: Keenevention! The weather is sunny and beautiful and many trees still have colorful fall leaves on them, despite it being relatively late in the “leaf-peeping” season.
Keene’s Fall Colors, as of Friday!
The first day of this third-annual event kicked off with the first-ever Political Action Panel where panel host Darryl W. Perry and his guests discussed working for political change outside of the two major parties. After that, Cop Blockers from Manchester and Keene took the stage in an informative panel hosted by Keene Cop Block‘s JP Freeman. We broke at noon for lunch, which this year is expanded from 90 minutes to a two-hour block, giving Keeneventioneers more time to explore Keene’s dining experiences and get back to the hotel with time to spare.
Following lunch, this year’s Bitcoin Panel began, hosted by Neocash Radio‘s Darren Tapp featured multiple bitcoin experts including head bitcoin programmer Gavin Andresen. The panel attracted many questions from the engaged audience. Following that, Darryl W. Perry took the stage for the first-ever Keenevention live auction benefiting the Ross Ulbricht legal defense fund, which totaled $436! Up next was the Secession Panel, hosted again this year by Rob Mathias of the Foundation for NH Independence. The independence advocates discussed how to move closer to secession becoming a reality in New Hampshire.
The 2015 Bitcoin Panel
Finally, oathkeeper and Alstead town selectman Chris Rietmann took the stage to deliver the Friday night keynote address, covering his news-making open carry activism, his pro-liberty actions as a selectman, and support of activism of all stripes.
Friday’s attendance was up from last year and included visitors from San Francisco, Missouri, Indianapolis, Wisconsin, and New York. One guy just made the move from Michigan as part of the Free State Project! He packed up his life into his car and made Keenevention his destination and first stop in New Hampshire. We’re here at the Best Western in Keene all weekend – come on our and join us. The daily admission is only $30 and includes admission to tomorrow night’s HALLOWKEENE Costume Dance Party!
Chris Rietmann Delivers the Friday Keynote
Remember, if you can’t make it in reality – all the panels and speakers will be released on video over the weeks following Keenevention, so stay tuned to the Keenevention blog for more announcements (you can sign up for emails when the blog has new posts using the signup box in the right column). You can also follow the new Keenevention Twitter, Keenevention’s facebook page and join the official facebook event here.
Alfredo Valentin, Hero
In a six page decision issued this week, NH Hillsborough superior court judge Gillian L. Abramson dismissed the misdemeanor wiretapping charge against Alfredo Valentin – affirming the right to record police in public includes secret recordings. The judge cites both the Glik and Gericke cases which were important federal cases affirming the right to record police in public. The state argued in this case, that since the recording was secret, the right to record doesn’t apply in NH, where the wiretapping statute is ridiculously oppressive. The judge smacked that claim down:
the Court finds that the First Amendment protects secretly filming police in public, for the same reasons that the First Amendment generally protects filming police. The public has the right to gather and disseminate information about the police.
Free State Project early mover and attorney Brandon Ross is Valentin’s lawyer (Ross has previously beaten wiretapping charges at the NH supreme court.) and had this to say, in an exclusive interview for Free Keene, about the judge’s decision: “By charging him with a felony, the state destroyed my client’s career–and made things much worse with this wild goose chase prosecution. I’m glad the court wasn’t fooled by the state’s manifestly incorrect representations about the law. I look forward to him getting his day in federal court.”
Attorney Brandon Ross
Ross also excoriated the NH legislature for their inaction on fixing the horrible wiretapping statutes, saying, “This never needed to happen. Numerous bills have been brought to the legislature to fix this. Each time, the legislature has failed to act to bring simple, necessary clarity to a law which police are continually abusing. But the NH chiefs of police scare them each time, and nothing happens. The resulting litigation from that spineless failure to act, does nothing but inconvenience citizens and cost taxpayers.”
The decision is excellent and will certainly help Valentin in his million+ dollar lawsuit against Manchester Police for violating his rights.
You can read the full six-page order here. Will the state attorney general’s office appeal to the NH supreme court and risk making this decision apply to the entire state? Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.
Bitcoin.com’s news wing has published a detailed feature article on Keenevention 2015’s upcoming Bitcoin Panel and the event as a whole. The piece by Jamie Redman details each speaker on the panel and even breaks the news about new addition Jeremy Kauffman of new bitcoin media streaming startup LBRY! The reporter also took the time to contact the panelsts to get their thoughts in advance of the panel. The article is worth reading and sharing. Check it out here at Bitcoin.com!
The Updated Bitcoin Panel for 2015
Keenevention 2015 kicks off in less than two weeks! Join us Hallowkeene weekend, October 30th through November 1st. Tickets for the third-annual Keenevention are just $60 or BTC for the whole weekend, including the Hallowkeene costume dance party! Pre-event ticketing is limited to 100, so lock yours in now.
Stay tuned to the Keenevention blog for more announcements. You can also follow the new Keenevention Twitter, Keenevention’s facebook page and join the official facebook event here.