VIDEO: What Happens When Govt Thugs Threaten Porcfest

Near high noon today, the first full day of the Free State Project‘s annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, two agents (Phillip Lawrence and Ray Persinger) from the “Department of Revenue” rolled up to Rogers Campground. The sharply-dressed thugs inquired with campground staff if there were food vendors in Agora Alley, a place renown for delicious food available from some vendors who may not have bothered asking government permission to serve their fellow hungry humans.

Upon exiting the office, I immediately began recording and confronted the men. Here’s the video of that encounter:

A crowd of activists quickly gathered, with multiple alerts going out via two-way radio, facebook, and word-of-mouth. They weren’t able to get any further than the first vendor before being told they were not welcome by multiple people in the crowd. A campground staff member ultimately told the criminals to go speak with the park owner, Crosby.

After thirty minutes of meeting with Crosby, the men immediately exited the property. Crosby refused to be interviewed about the conversation, but claimed he was not threatened by them. I suspect he’s not being forthcoming. Porcfest organizers would also not speak on camera, but the conversation I had and overheard leads me to believe that Crosby has been recruited to pass out government paperwork to food vendors. I plan to investigate further with the vendors and see what’s happening behind-the-scenes. Stay tuned here to FreeKeene.com for the latest on this developing situation. Also, Porcfest is just starting, so come out and join us through this weekend!

UPDATE: One vendor reports that Crosby did not hand him the paperwork from the state when the vendor indicated that he’s got his books in order. We’ll be discussing the incident on Free Talk Live tonight at 7pm Eastern. You can listen live at LRN.FM.

An Open Letter to Senator Sharon Carson – The Compassion of Decriminalization

Recently, the Concord Monitor agreed to publish yet another liberty-related article. This one was on the subject of marijuana decriminalization. Recently, the Senate decided to “table” a marijuana decriminalization bill that would have helped first time “offenders” avoid getting a criminal record for possessing small amounts of marijuana. The prohibitionists in the senate temporarily killed the bill with typical political chicanery, but the most offensive thing about the whole endeavor was the insinuation this was somehow for the “common people’s” good. That, in spite of very clear signals that the majority of the people in New Hampshire do not want others to go to jail for possessing a plant, people like Senator Sharon Carson would continue to advocate for their imprisonment.

The original piece in the Concord Monitor can be found here, but it lacks the citations that I submitted. You can read it with citations below.
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I Plead Guilty, Judge Says No

Today is my birthday, and where else would I want to be at 8:30am except in Judge Burke’s courtroom, awaiting another parking ticket arraignment? Last time I tried the “dead fish” strategy: I didn’t speak during arraignment, I barely spoke during trial, and I was predictably railroaded by the prosecution. Judge Burke found me guilty of two parking violations and fined me $10.

The trial and everything leading up to it costs the court (and therefore the taxpayers) far more than the $10 collected in “revenue”. Not only is it costly for the government to prosecute this victimless crime, it’s also time consuming: the prosecutor was kept busy filing paperwork, gathering witnesses, and preparing his arguments. The entire parking enforcement (which only consists of 2 people) was incapacitated for nearly 4 hours while sequestered for trial. How much money can the city government collect in 8 parking enforcement man-hours? Well, that opportunity was lost because I chose to take these tickets to trial.

If you think this is stupid, you might be surprised that I agree with you. What a waste of time and money! But remember — I didn’t set the system up this way — the people calling themselves “the government” did. And they can stop this charade at any time by simply dismissing the parking tickets. What would they have to lose? They’d certainly have a lot to gain.

Anyway, this time, I chose a new strategy: Go to arraignment with a piece of paper already written out, explaining that I want to plead GUILTY, except the paper is *UNSIGNED*. Once Judge Burke accepts this piece of paper, it becomes part of the record. It is now on the record that I want to plead guilty.

You’d think that would be enough, but Judge Burke did something interesting. He entered a plea of NOT GUILTY on my behalf. Why would he do that? The answer can be found in the following short video from court this morning:

In short, my point was: The judge has demonstrated bias against me, the defendant. Judge Burke is presuming (without evidence) that I am subject to the laws of the State of New Hampshire, but that is one of the elements that must be proven by the prosecution! How can I be forced to be at arraignment if the Judge is not presuming jurisdiction?

What do you think about this strategy? My next step is to file a motion to reverse the plea and motion to have Judge Burke recuse himself because of the bias he demonstrated. He is protecting the prosecutor and doing his job for him by assuming one of the essential elements of the crime: jurisdiction. Without jurisdiction, the case must be dismissed, but he’s not going to let that happen, is he?

Stone Farm Threatened With $275/day in Fines by Town Selectman; Charges Ultimately Dropped!

Stone Farm on Liberty Acres

Stone Farm on Liberty Acres

Stone Farm on Liberty Acres has provided hospitality to liberty lovers for a bitcoin donation since 2013. Visitors have been raving about the property and it has received coverage in the Keene Sentinel and Bitcoin Magazine for its acceptance of bitcoin, the international cryptocurrency.

Proprietors Katie McCall and Matt Roach were threatened last week by Fitzwilliam town selectman CJ Holman with $275 a day in fines if they continue to operate what Holman alleged is a “bed and breakfast” (a legal term that doesn’t apply to Stone Farm). Why all-of-a-sudden is Stone Farm on this politician’s radar?

It appears that there has recently been a dispute with the property’s landlord regarding an over-full septic tank due to a broken leach field that has on more than one occasion backed sewage up into the shower. Katie and Matt say the landlord has refused to fix the leach field or even pump the septic tank and seemed to not even realize the property has a septic tank. As a result of this disgusting issue, Stone Farm has been closed to visitors for weeks and the duo are planning a move to a new location.

Katie McCall and Matt Roach

Katie McCall and Matt Roach

Rather than do the right thing and fix the septic issue, the landlord apparently decided to contact the town gang and snitch on their tenants for running a bed-and-breakfast without a government permission slip. That’s why after two years of service and zero complaints, that Katie and Matt received a threat via certified mail last week. Katie also received an additional threat over her midwifery training business, which ended on its own a while back.

Katie and Matt sent a response to Holman’s threat demanding to know the section of ordinance that was allegedly being violated, as it was never mentioned in the supposed “violation” notice.

Ultimately the duo attended this week’s town selectmen meeting, where they were the only two townsfolk in attendance. According to Katie:

The one selectmen [CJ Holman] who spearheaded the aggression against Stone Farm failed to show and the two remaining selectmen oozed apologies for his inappropriate actions. Both violations were dropped…sometimes people feel comfortable being bullies when the person they are bullying is unknown to them. Putting a face to a name sometimes holds people accountable on its own merit.

Success! Stay tuned here to Free Keene for any further developments.

P.S. Stone Farm is moving to another location – please help them by donating to their fundraiser and get perks like a weeklong stay at the new location!

Ross Ulbricht Vindicates Trial Activists in First-Released Letter From Prison

ross_ulbricht

Ross Ulbricht, Hero

You may have seen the news today that Ross Ulbricht, the man who created the Silk Road, the world’s most infamous black market “darknet” site, has been sentenced to life in federal prison with no possibility of parole.  Given the unfair trial he was subjected to from start-to-finish, the fact that he did not take a plea, and because the feds want to “send a message” to underground market operators and participants, it’s sad but no surprise he got the maximum.  Ross plans to appeal and fundraising is being done for that now.

If you’ve been reading the Free Keene blog, you probably already know there was some controversy in the first week of the Ross Ulbricht Silk Road court case this year. A contingent of hard-core Keene liberty activists car-pooled down to Manhattan to join with other activists from around the globe to protest and perform jury nullification outreach in front of the courthouse. As a result, the tyrannical judge in the case threatened the jury with sequestering if the activists didn’t stop their free speech. After a meeting with Ross’ mother, Lyn, the activists agreed to back down.

One of the big questions at the time was, what did Ross want?  We knew what his understandably-frightened mother and his court-obedient attorney wanted, but was their wish Ross’ wish?

Free Keene Bloggers James Cleaveland and Jay Freeville Outside the Ulbricht Trial

Free Keene Bloggers James Cleaveland and Jay Freeville Outside the Ulbricht Trial

Local liberty activist David Crawford decided to write Ross and find out.  Unfortunately, Ross didn’t write back until after his conviction, and in what may be the first publicly available letter from Ross Ulbricht, he exonerates the liberty-loving activists who came out to support him.

Ross thanks the activists for their support at trial and says he’s glad they were there, doesn’t think they did anything wrong, and appreciated their effort.  He also expresses hope to not receive the life sentence.  The full text of the letter appears below.

Dear David,

I got your letter a few weeks back, thank you for writing, and thank you for your support at the trial. I’m glad you were there protesting. You should be able to voice your opinions and hold signs, especially at a courthouse where it is especially important to have that freedom. I know it was touchy because the judge wanted to control what the jury was exposed to, but I don’t think you did anything wrong and I appreciate you trying to help even though I was found guilty in the end. Now I have to focus on sentencing. I really don’t want to get that life sentence even though I know the prosecutors will be pushing for it. Please thank the others that were with you showing me support at trial if you get a chance. :)

-Ross
(February 24th, 2015)

You can write to Ross at the address listed on FreeRoss.org and also donate to his appeal.

You can meet Ross’ mother, Lyn, at Porcfest 2015 next month, as she’ll be speaking about this harrowing experience at the yearly camping festival thrown by the Free State Project.

P.S. This story was originally posted in early March and then quickly pulled at the request of Ross and his family. They were worried it might affect his chances at sentencing. It didn’t. So, I’m reposting it now.

Former Gubernatorial Candidate Hemingway Schools Hassan on Decriminalization

Andrew Hemingway

Andrew Hemingway

In an excellent and well-researched piece in a Seacoast paper, Foster’s, former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway, a Republican, schools NH governor Maggie Hassan on why she should change her mind and support cannabis decriminalization:

 

Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she does not support a bill that would decriminalize possession of one-half ounce or less of marijuana. This is becoming a source of consternation for Granite Staters of all ages and across the political spectrum, and it is especially confusing to younger voters who see our current marijuana penalties as senseless and archaic.

 

HB 618, which would reduce this penalty from a misdemeanor to a violation, passed the House in March. The vote was an overwhelming 297-67, with 96 percent of House Democrats and 72 percent of House Republicans voting in favor. Unfortunately, since Gov. Hassan has not taken a favorable position on the bill, it faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.

 

This bill would not make marijuana legal, as voters in four states and the District of Columbia have chosen to do. Instead, what we’re talking about here is a much more limited reform, one that would put New Hampshire’s marijuana penalties more nearly into line with the penalties found in other New England states. It would also be consistent with public opinion and with the New Hampshire Constitution, which advises that “all penalties ought to be proportioned to the nature of the offense.”

 

When I was running for the Republican nomination for governor in 2014, I came out strongly in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession. I did so with the expectation that I would receive pushback from some in my party who had been supporting the War on Marijuana their entire lives. (more…)