I look forward to participating in what will be the second annual Keenevention this weekend. The forum taking place at the Best Western Plus Sovereign Hotel on Winchester Street will feature panels and speeches by New Hampshire’s activist community. In addition to a panel focusing on Direct Action that I will be hosting on Sunday, I was also asked to speak on Saturday’s media panel by organizer Mark Edge. When I agreed, I was not informed who else would be on the panel, though I expected that organizers would only select participants of honorable reputation when showcasing the most effective activists that New Hampshire offers.
While there is certainly a need for diversity of perspective within the activist community, there are standards that a reasonable person would expect individuals would hold each other to if we wish to make any sort of collective impact. As a peace activist, anyone who directly advocated or applauds the use of violence can be objectively classified as having beliefs counter to my own. For myself, I am wasting my most valuable asset, my time, if I support those working against my interests, those who are promoting ideas that are the opposite of my own.
It was once consensus within the libertarian and anarchist community of greater Keene that embracing peace was equally imperative to embracing ideas of social liberty. For whatever reason over the past year or so, that sentiment has changed as some formerly positive spirits have darkened amidst of heightened wave of reactionary opposition. (more…)
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.
When hearing stories about how high tensions have risen in Keene regarding activist adventures, one ponders the many indicators of derision. There’s the fear and hate mongering at STOP FREE KEENE!!!, which when boiling over to violent rhetoric or threats thereof, occasionally gets censored. Then there’s the realistic incidents of actual violence in Keene’s streets regarding activist related activities. Two violent clashes on consecutive evenings tangentially related to Central Square chalkings led to one person’s hospitalization and earned another a felony charge. It would be nice to believe that the xenophobic posturing that has been aimed at individuals were to have reached its climax long ago, but judging by a shouting match in the streets of an otherwise quiet suburban neighborhood, it seems there are those who are making it their life’s effort to embody the forces of antagonism.
This synthesis of negative energy came together after recent re-mover to Keene Christopher Cantwell decided to have a word with neighbor Matthew (more…)
It always catches me by surprise when a public official continues to express belief in an incorrect analysis of law. Yesterday afternoon in Keene, a chalk artist was approached by a bailiff who exited the front doors of the court to issue a pseudo-order to stop chalking. Classifying the chalking as ‘disorderly conduct’, a vague legal term to which chalking does not apply, the authority figure retreated when questioned about his statements and suggested that he would contact Keene police. A KPD SUV rolled by, and another officer walked past the chalking and into the courthouse, but no further action was taken. And, the chalking remained over 24 hours later!
I suppose this was simply an incident in which one bailiff had an incorrect interpretation of the rights of people to express themselves. It was respectable to see the issue dropped once the false information was corrected. One longs for a day when chalking itself does not cause such an elevation of the emotions for bystanders and authority figures.
While out doing election day outreach at Keene State College, parking enforcer Linda comes along to issue some threats to peaceful motorists. I grab my Robin Hooding supplies and begin saving people from parking tickets. She begins behaving erratically as we approach an intersection, acting like she is going to cross and then turning around, then turning around again and so on. It was probably very frustrating for the poor people who had stopped to wait for her at the crosswalk while she played childish games with Matt and I.
After this encounter, I pulled out my video camera and continued to feed meters while holding her accountable for her actions. As soon as I approached with the camera she began her erratic behavior again, turning around a total of eighteen times within two minutes. She also accuses me of harassment and interfering, which we know are untrue – Robin Hooding is legal in New Hampshire and talking to government workers is not harassment. Eventually, she leaves the area, having failed at writing further tickets.
Keene city councilor Terry Clark, a vocal opponent of the militarization of police, recently proposed that the Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck (BEARCAT) obtained through a Homeland Security grant in 2012, be returned to its giftors. The mayor of Keene successfully prevented the proposal from being considered by the full council, by filing the proposal as ‘informational’. When Clarke objected to the improper classification of his proposal, only two other councilors of fifteen — Emily Hague and Bettina Chadbourne — sided with Clarke, resulting in the defeat of the proposal before it would be seriously considered. Mayor Kendall Lane, who held the same office during discussion on the matter in years past, was caught on an audiorecording of a meeting hushedly whispering to another city official, “We’re gonna get our own tank”. Despite the lack of change in Keene’s status relative to the attack truck, statewide coverage of the situation in Keene has been featured in a video segment by WMUR, received front page coverage in today’s Union Leader, and has also sparked a hilarious satirical police blotter written by Lionel Beehner of the Huffington Post.
A delivery truck was double-parked in front of the Fun Suds Laundromat. Police called the EOD bomb squad to cordon off the block in search of suspected Iranian-made IEDs, while an F-16 provided air support. NSA was notified to check its foreign transcripts for any explicit threats made against Keene or the state of New Hampshire. No threats were made and no IEDs were found. The truck was towed.