Civilly Disobedient UBER Driver Stephanie Franz, courtesy CBS Boston
It’s been almost a year since Stephanie Franz aka “UBER Grandma” was the first UBER driver cited for driving people safely to their destination in Portsmouth, NH. The city has been targeting brave UBER drivers with tickets for operating without government permission slips. In the Summer of 2015 the city gang declared UBER drivers who did not jump through the city’s hoops in addition to UBER’s background check and sign up process, would be targeted for ticketing.
UBER has provided Stephanie with an attorney and she’s ready to face down the city gang in court. However, there have been multiple reschedulings of the date, so hopefully this is the final one: Please join UBER Grandma at Portsmouth District Court at 8am on December 13th (here’s a facebook event) and support her courageous stand for your freedom to drive people places without having to ask government permission!
As promised in a press release earlier this week, Keene liberty activists followed through on a promised Beer Pong event in Railroad Square. Held Saturday at noon, the event was intended to call attention to the oppressive open container ordinance here in Keene. Event organizer Bob Call was interviewed by reporters from the Keene Sentinel and Union Leader and explained how the ordinance targets college students and poor people and doesn’t do anything to actually keep drunk people off the streets.
The open container ban does however transfer a lot of wealth to the state from the victims of the police’s aggression. Enforcing open container means big money for the government, and as event co-organizer Chris Waid points out, it also protects restaurants and bars, giving them the exclusive ability to allow someone to enjoy alcohol on the sidewalk. That means the law is discriminatory in that if you can’t afford to pay for a drink at restaurant/bar prices, you can’t enjoy a drink outside in downtown Keene.
Yesterday’s protest went well and no one was arrested despite the police threatening everyone playing beer pong with arrest. They cited a city ordinance that arguably does not even apply to Railroad Square, claiming playing games involving throwing a ball are prohibited in the area! Either they were bluffing or they didn’t actually read the ordinance, which specifically states that throwing games are banned from Central Square and “on the streets and sidewalks of the downtown area”. I supposed someone could argue that Railroad Square is a street or sidewalk, but there’s a strong argument it’s neither.
Officers Colin Zamore and Andrew Lippincott deliver threats to the beer pong activists.
Plus, the ordinance is clearly intended to address games that could cause interference in the normal traffic of business in the downtown area: “For the safety and protection of participants, pedestrians, passersby, motorists, and property, no person shall, unless authorized by permit, play games involving running, jumping, throwing, catching, or similar physical activity, including but not limited to games of ball”. Even if it could be argued that Railroad Square is a street or sidewalk, it’s pretty clear that no one’s safety is in jeopardy from a ping-pong ball. The ordinance was obviously crafted to stop frisbee and football players’ projectiles from flying into traffic around Central Square, as it specifically prohibits such activities from that area.
Perhaps that’s why Keene police officers Colin Zamore and Andrew Lippincott never returned after threatening the group with arrest if they continued playing after fifteen minutes had gone by. The activists continued to play for about thirty more minutes and then declared victory and went home. (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!
He voted three times against legalizing, decriminalizing, and reducing penalties for marijuana use and possession. He also voted for increased fines related to breaking alcohol consumption laws…Icing on the cake: Abbott sits on the Transportation Committee.
Thankfully, no one was hurt in the accident allegedly caused by the hypocritical prohibitionist. Clearly though, his precious “get tough” laws didn’t stop him. Interestingly, according to the filings at Keene District Court, he’s entered a not guilty plea and retained an attorney. Trial is set for 10am at Keene District Court on November 22nd. 67-year-old Abbott is out on $2,000 personal recognizance bond.
Of course, there’s no way to totally stop drunk driving, but maybe some different approaches instead of prohibitionist measures can affect the numbers and save lives? Start with eliminating zoning rules preventing neighborhood pubs or running businesses from inside a home and you’ll see fewer people driving to go drink if they can walk there instead. Plus, eliminating regulations restricting the transportation industry like taxis and ride-sharing will increase competition and bring prices down and availability up. When ride-sharing services UBER and Lyft were regulated out of Austin, TX this year, drunk driving went up.
I don’t know who is worth voting for in Cheshire District 1’s house race this November, but it’s definitely not Michael D. Abbott. Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on this case.
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…)