Keene Cops Attempt Crackdown on Peaceful Festival Attendees!

RiveraIf you’ve been watching the blog here at, you’ve no doubt already seen the multiple Ridley Report entries covering the Keene Police’s attempted crackdown on the Fall 2008 Keene Freedom Festival. Liberty activists and other members of the public were enjoying themselves at Railroad Square this past Sunday. Several organizations were doing outreach, there was a gambling table, live music by the Josh Noone Band (Here’s a live recording of “hypocrisy” from Freedom Fest.) and others, and lots of socializing and networking going on. Then, about an hour into the event, “city prosecutor” Elizer Rivera, showed up in a police uniform with three of his associates, “detective” William Sargent, “lieutenant” Jay Dugay, and “officer” Matt Griffin. Griffin was observing from across the street, while Sargent acted as the silent heavy. Dugay at least had a friendly demeanor even though he was threatening all of the attendees with arrest allegedly for illegally assembling without a permit. In the video footage, you can see I got him to laugh when I caught him saying something particularly silly. Dugay clearly would rather have been doing something else, but is not willing to refuse to follow bad orders.

Moments after their arrival, the police were surrounded by activists, many of whom were armed with video cameras or audio recorders. Even though Dugay claimed that they were responding to an alleged complaint and were investigating whether the Freedom Fest attendees had a permit or not, Rivera’s actions contradicted Dugay’s statements. Rivera was on the hunt for myself and Toby from Free Minds TV. Upon arrival, Rivera made a beeline for me as I was sitting at the gambling table. Before I had a chance to start my audio recorder, he slipped a pink piece of paper called a “COMPLAINT” under my elbow. The allegations are almost completely illegible and it’s not signed. Toby was threatened with arrest if he didn’t take the “COMPLAINT” they were attempting to “serve” him with, so he took it. His was the same as mine. I’m not sure what he’s planning to do yet but I’ll be paying a visit to their “district court” on December 12th at 9am and asking them to see evidence of a complaining, damaged party. I’ll be sure to send them a “NOTICE” in advance to alert them to the terms of my visitation. I’ll post that here when it’s completed.

DugayIt’s probably relevant to note that Toby and I were targeted as alleged “sponsors” of the event, because Free Keene and FMTV were listed as presenting organizations on the event flier that we didn’t create! We didn’t organize the event or even have tables. We were attendees like anyone else, but because of our media prominence, we were targeted. Or perhaps we were targeted because the cops were too lazy to really do some investigation work.

After threatening everyone with arrest and delivering their unwanted paperwork, they left. Armadillo’s Burritos stepped up and provided power for the band and some participants moved their tables off of the bricked area back about 40 feet to a grassy area. Apparently this zone of land can be occupied with no “permit”, as the police did not return to arrest anyone, including the “unlicensed” food vendors.

SargentAt first the cops suggested that their precious “permits” were “needed” in order to sell food and “assemble”. Since they were threatening people with arrest, they naturally got a fairly large number of the people running tables to move a few dozen feet to the east. They drove by a few times after the tables were moved, so they knew that the same event was occurring in a slightly different location. Why then, didn’t they follow through on their threats and arrest the food vendors for continuing to sell? The courageous Kat Kanning from the New Hampshire Free Press also refused to bow to their threats and move her table at all, so why didn’t they arrest her? Why didn’t they bother to come back and threaten her or the food vendors a second time? Allow me to speculate.

First off, we know that government bureaucrats do not like recording devices. Their slimy, coercive activities work best when no one is around to document them and shine the light of day on them. Or in this case, the light of YouTube. They had already been surrounded by multiple activists recording their uninformed, conflicting threats and claims. If they came back, we’d only have had more questions for them, making them look even more inconsistent.

GriffinAdditionally, they got what they wanted. They didn’t really care if people stopped selling food or if the band stopped playing. What they care about is obedience. They want you to be subservient to them. If you bow to their demands, they perceive it as a win. By obeying a ludicrous, arbitrary demand, you are submitting to their so-called “authority”. Those cops knew they had nothing when they were walking up. They certainly couldn’t have arrested the vendors as there were only four of them compared to dozens of us. Besides, then who would clean up the event? Plus, being videoed arresting peaceful people would only erode their precious legitimacy ever more.

While the ideal position for the activists to take would’ve been to stand their ground completely, I understand why people obey. Not everyone is prepared to be thrown into a cage. They have families to take care of and bills to pay. Additionally, cops have training in how to be intimidating, and if you don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with them, your options feel quite limited. That said, as liberty activists continue to have encounters with the police, their ability to stand up for themselves and ask tough questions of the cops will grow. More activists will arrive in NH. More will have recording devices on hand. More will be experienced in dealing with the cops.

Eventually, the government people will learn that it’s in their best interest to leave peaceful people alone. Perhaps some day we can have peace officers again instead of “law enforcement officers”.

Please join in discussion on the Free Keene Forum.

Here’s a video of the event and the police harassment:

Here’s a short video about the event:

Finally, here are some highlights from the audio I captured of the police harassment.

Now you can subscribe to Free Keene via email!

Don't miss a single post!


  1. Yeah, pretty obvious you guys were set up. Based on their comments, they're apparently all somewhat familiar with the shows (although not that much since they accused Toby of being from "Free Talk TV" when they served him) and have been reading the websites.

    Maybe that too will backfire on them (as this attempt at intimidation did) and some of the cops doing all this surveillance might start to understand that hassling people who aren't harming anyone is a waste of everyone's time and resources when they could be out looking for thieves, rapists, murderers and other violent offenders instead of acting as muscle for some alleged complainant whose identity they'll likely never reveal or who will turn out to be a bureaucrat and/or anti-freedom agitator.

    I expect that, like any authority whose will is challenged, they will grow more and more paranoid and attempt to crack down further. The bureaucrats most fearful of losing their perception of power are going to demand it from their enforcers, some of whom may be happy to comply and others who may not want to but will do so in order to keep their jobs.

    As the numbers of peaceful, pro-freedom activists grow in Keene, so too will the need for the bureaucrats to "control" the situation and force people to submit by means of violence.

  2. Agreed Zeus. There will come a time when their hand will be forced and they will either decide to crackdown or leave us alone. This rigmarole with Ian's couch is just some silly attempt to send us "a message." What they aren't realizing is that every time they do something like this they only strengthen the pro-liberty arguments. The entire purpose of Keene Freedom Fest was to be an unlicensed event in protest of needing a permit to gather. How can people claim they have freedom when some guy in a nicely pressed, black, crime fighters costume (complete with utility belt) calls a group of citizens on public property "an unlawful assembly." What then makes an assembly lawful? A slip of paper that shows we all asked Nanny if we could go out and play? Anybody know what the price of those permits would be? It seems the officers were making the claim that permits exist to cull any unrest between interested parties partial to a particular space at a particular time. If that is so, then the permit is a glorified sign-up sheet and should cost nothing. But if they come with a charge (at the very least erroneous origination and administrative fees) then it is classic extortion. Anytime anything of value changes hands between consenting parties, governments want their cut. And here I thought the age of highwaymen was gone.

  3. I have a few question about this so-called "COMPLAINT", please bear with me.

    Why is the word 'COMPLAINT' capitalized? What is it's legal definition? What are the components of a legal 'COMPLAINT'?

    Why is the word "MUST" captialized? Does it have a specific legal definition? Does it bear with it an obligation of the "DEFENDANT"? Is this complaint a 'SUMMONDS'? Doesn't a summonds have to be filed to obligate someone to attend the court?

    Is the court that "You" "MUST" come to and "STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, CHESHIRE COUNTY KEENE DISTRICT COURT 3 WASHINGTON STREET KEENE, NH 03431" the same entity? There are ton of other questions I have about the court and its authority beyond the point of this post. Continuing…

    "THE UNDERSIGNED COMPLAINS THE DEFENDANT:" is also capitalized? What does this phrase mean? Are the "DEFENDANT", BerNard, IAN", and "IAN BERNARD" the same person.

    Is the nature of the complaint "Use of Railroad SQ" a criminal offense in THE CITY OF KEENE? What is the KCO? Why is this field blank? How, without a KCO, which I will assume means KEENE CITY ORDINANCE, being violated is the COMPLAINT a legal document. The boilerplate above refers to specific Keene City Ordinances referenced by both ordinance number and the capitalization of the description of the ordinance. The complaintant doesn't refer to any such KCO on the line on which it was to be recorded.

    Who is the complaintant? What is the nature of his/her complaint? What rights were violated? What damages occured? Is the CITY OF KEENE" the complaintant? Was the COMPLAINT signed by an officer of the corporation of the CITY OF KEENE? What then is the nature of the complaintant's STANDING with the KEENE DISTRICT COURT?

    What is the nature of the evidence against the DEFENDANT? Again, are there damages? Is there evidence connecting the damages with the actions of the DEFENDANT?

    I refer you to the NH rules of criminal proceedure PDF Link. Read specifically Section II Rule 3, Complaint, Arrest Warrant, Summons and Release Prior to Arraignment. The proceeding don't seem to be following the rules of criminal proceedure. How can the CITY OF KEENE, it's DISTRICT COURT, or the STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE violate their own rules about how they conduct their own business? What authority do they have to bring legal proceedings without a victim or damages? Why does the complaintant get to file the complaint in anonimity? What authority does the district attorney have to file charges without a legal complaint?

    There are several other things that may not understand as I don't live in New Hampshire. Why is this matter being persued in state court, rather than a municipal court, as this is a so-called violation of a so-called city ordinance? I did find that according to the rules of criminal proceedure, if the DEFENDANT refuses to plead the court "shall" enter a plea of not-guilty. The rules keep referring to a "summonds" so I believe Ian must receive a summonds to be required to appear. The word "MUST" doesn't create an obligation in the "COMPLAINT."

    Let me also refer you to this Legal Dictionary, Look up the definitions for "complaint", "standing", "actual controversy"

    I took the time to read over the Rules of Criminal Procedure because in a case brought against me in another state I found after the fact the procecutor and judge didn't even follow their own rules. To make things worse the attorney I hired never informed me of my rights and allowed me to accept a plea deal that I shouldn't have.

  4. I think maybe next time and I am sure there will be a next time some people should try and laugh at the cops when they come to break things up.

    Laughing at these buffoons is an appropriate response in my eyes. Laughing might evoke some feelings in the automatons and they could loose their cool lash out and show themselves for the thugs that they are.

  5. Slim, you moving here to Keene? Perhaps you'll be around next time to lead that!

  6. "Who's on first?", "Who's in charge here?"…Anybody notice that "e-lies-er, rivera" had his *SARGEANTS* stripes on???…&it's *Lt.*DuGuay???Does that mean that DuGuay *outranks* the Police Persecutor???…was "Eli" acting under Jay's orders, or the other way around???…Legally,*ANYTHING* that you're handed by "e-lies-er rivera" is *PROBABLY NOT LEGAL*…you're *STILL* just a bully-with-a-badge, eli.And you really, really, really need that *ANGER MANAGEMENT* class, puta!…

  7. Just wondering, what kind of reservation system, if any, would you support for a shared space like this square?

    At (my) work the meeting rooms are up for grabs and you reserve one in the online meeting system. Same goes for projectors and call bridges. In earlier days a secretary kept a book. If you want to book a function room for a wedding somebody in the organization that owns the hall does the bookings.

    So why shouldn't there be some sort of system for this public square? Is there anything unreasonable about telling *somebody* in advance and putting your name on it. What if two groups showed up on the same day, each with its own band? This is not out of the realm of reality. I read recently that in Portsmouth just about every weekend some group wants to use Market Square, which entails disrupting traffic, blocking off parking spaces, etc.

    And if you agree that some sort of reservation system might be reasonable, then I would ask, why not the city?

  8. A reservation system is indeed reasonable, Curt. However, the group of persons doing business under the name of "CITY OF KEENE" (aka "The City") are not offering a reservation system service. They're offering a license/permit to use what is claimed to be "public" property.

    Calling it "public property" is simply deceptive as "public property" would mean (in normal English) that it was "property owned by the people". In reality, it is not public at all since "The City" claims ownership over it and refuses to let the public use it without their permission.

  9. Actually, I think it is just a reservation system.

    Ownership of public spaces, including roads and public squares, is complicated. There is the fee ownership of the land, which might belong to an individual, or which might belong to the municipality, and then there is the right of the public to use or travel over the property, two separate things. For example if you live on an old town road in NH, you likely own the land up to the centerline of the road, even if your deed says the boundary is along the road. But the public has a viatic easement to use the land for travel.

    The viatic easement is a common law public right, and the state, claiming the right to act on behalf of the public, has delegated regulation to the city. So it is not a matter of the city claiming to own the land.

  10. please, PLEASE, ***PLEASE*** POST THAT "complaint"…being unsigned, & illegible, it's probably not even technically *legal*…if not, then the cops committed the crime of OFFICIAL OPPRESSION…Hey, Curt, will you please find the NHRSA for official oppression???…thnx…I'm working on a motion requesting clarification of judge eddy Burkah's "order" in re: "cameras in court/the couch case"….based on the *UNDERGRADUATE LEVEL* legal crap he wrote, i still believe he's both personally incompetent, & that kangaroocourt is ***NOT*** a "Court of Competent Jurisdiction"…&what Law school ***didn't*** e-lies-err-i-vera graduate from???…

  11. 643:1 Official Oppression. – A public servant, as defined in RSA 640:2, II, is guilty of a misdemeanor if, with a purpose to benefit himself or another or to harm another, he knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office; or knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.

    Source. 1971, 518:1, eff. Nov. 1, 1973.

  12. Thanks, Curt. What part of NH RSA 643:1 "Official Oppression", *doesn't* apply to Mikaela's, the cops, & the "Courts'" actions???…."When the cops or Court commits a crime, who arrests *them*???…Where's that good ole' Military Coup when we need one?…

Care to comment?