The headlines are all over New England media: Keene Police have released photos of suspects from the Pumpkin Fest 2014 riots. Inevitably, critics of liberty activists in Keene, and those who are confused and angry about Cop Block will tend to think liberty-oriented people are anti-police, because we so frequently criticize them for various things. It’s a common misunderstanding.
Many in the freedom movement, including myself, value the idea of protection services, which is what the police are supposed to be. While I’d prefer competition among protection agencies and consent-based funding of the agencies, while we have a monopoly provider, as we do today, I’d prefer they investigate real crimes, and I support them when they do.
Once upon a time the government’s police were referred to as peace officers, but now they are “law enforcement officers”, which is a whole different role and mindset.
During the Pumpkin Fest riots, peace officers would have acted to stop the violence (bottle throwing, fighting), property destruction (destroying street signs, tossing cars and dumpsters), and trespass (people going unwanted, onto private property). Law Enforcement Officers, on the other hand, arrest people for all kinds of nonsense things like open container, underage drinking, cannabis possession, and various other “malum prohibitum” victimless “crimes”. Every moment they spend harassing a young person for drinking or smoking is a moment they can’t be investigating actual crimes that have victims.
As you may be aware, Free Keene provides the Keene Police Scanner 24/7 audio stream as one of our methods of serving the community. You can listen live anytime, and many people were tuned in during Pumpkin Fest. So many in fact, it caused issues for our server and it went down for a couple of hours during the night. We got those remedied and were streaming again around 11pm (the stream jumped to around 100 listeners right as soon as I reconnected it, and ultimately peaked at over 340 listeners at once!) Though those couple hours of down-time are missing from the audio, all the rest of the scanner audio from Pumpkin Fest and the morning-after are now compiled into two handy MP3 files for you!
The anonymous activist who provided the files has also done the work of removing all the blank spaces from the scanner audio – making them much easier to listen to. Here are the files:
After I got off-the-air from my live Saturday radio program (on which we discussed the initial Pumpkin Fest 2014 riots), I headed back down to the college. At the time, there was a helicopter broadcasting a message to disperse or be arrested. I arrived at the gateway to Keene State College – Winchester St. to witness a huge throng of police marching down the street. I quickly pulled out my camera and began to record:
After walking around the nearest building on campus, in full view of the line of police, activists walked onto campus and right back over to Winchester St. We continued walking west on Winchester and no cops said anything to us there. However, we again went on campus and came back out on Madison St., on the west end of the college. Here there were several police standing around the intersection and one of them told me we couldn’t pass, despite college students walking down Winchester St. immediately behind them. (more…)
Rather than only arresting people who were causing violence and destruction, the police were targeting people crossing arbitrary lines and partying on private property. In this excellent ten-minute video, Alex is right there when cops create all kinds of unnecessary mayhem: (click links below to jump to that part if you are short on time)
They shoot pepperballs at party houses on Winchester St – completely unnecessary – those people were on private property and not in the road. It’s arguable that pepperballs are useful to clear a crowd who won’t leave a street and indeed, blocking streets is one of the reasons the “disorderly conduct” statute exists, but the people at these houses were just enjoying themselves. The use of pepperballs in this situation is just aggressive.
Guy walking down sidewalk is violently arrested by a throng of cops – This guy is literally just walking down the sidewalk. He’s hasn’t threatened anyone and is not blocking the street. The reason he can’t walk down the sidewalk is, well, because the men with guns say so. The reason the cops decide to jump him like he’s strapped with a bomb is, because they can.
It’s behavior like this from police that alienates them from average people. This is why Cop Block is so popular on campus. Here are the students’ sensible responses to the violence that was visited upon them by the police:
“We’re not terrorists. We love America. We just like to drink! Don’t shoot us!”
There’s a reason why the young ladies in the video think that the police are “pieces of shit” (more…)
Some of the best independent video of the Pumpkin Fest 2014 riots that I’ve seen thus far is on the newly created “Pumpkin Fest” channel, which shows the scale of the mobs of partiers on various streets around the college during the day. Late in the footage night has fallen as the cameraman appears to be on the second story of a home on Winchester St. as he records a throng of police tromping in formation eastbound. I’ll have more from that scene from my vantage point at the traffic circle in a later post:
Pumpkin Fest 2014: I’d heard there were police with riot gear breaking up a party so I headed down to the college neighborhood yesterday around 6pm after a successful afternoon of handing out Foundation for NH Independence fliers and Bitcoin fliers. Blake Street was packed with people when I arrived, but police were at about a block away in each direction. I asked one house if I could get up on their porch to get a better shot of the crowd and he was gracious enough to invite me up into his room to get a shot from the second story. In the few moments it took to get up there, the large crowd had split and bottles were being thrown. While I don’t think the police should be arresting people for victimless crimes, this was actual criminality. People were getting hurt, property was destroyed and littered upon. Of course, because they have no obligation to protect you, Keene Police decided to stay safely down the street. Here’s video from the middle of the bottle war:
More Pumpkinfest Riot coverage to come here at Free Keene.