You’ve gotta give the Union Leader credit for their headline.
UPDATE: The Union Leader has re-written parts of the article, presumably after Sam gave them a call. The new article is posted here. I will leave the old one up so people can see the differences.
By MELANIE PLENDA
Union Leader Correspondent
KEENE – Being bare breasted on the streets of Keene may not be illegal, but breast painting, drinking in public, blocking police cars and harassing officers is.
At least seven people were arrested Sunday shortly after 6 p.m. when bystanders reported people were drinking and taking off their clothes in Central Square in downtown Keene.
Keene Police Lt. Darryl Madden said the people in the park were not arrested for nakedness, which is not illegal in Keene.
“One woman was toples and she was getting her breasts painted by another woman,” he said. “There’s no law against being naked, but you can’t be lewd or lascivious. And one person groping someone’s breasts and saying lewd things certainly qualifies.”
When police arrived, they also noticed people drinking in the park and began making arrests, Madden said. As they did, the crowd grew heated and started yelling at and “getting in the officers’ faces.” Police made more arrests. The entire incident took about 15 minutes, Madden said, and it’s not clear how many people were in the park at the time.
As police were driving away with the arrested, several in the crowd jumped on the hoods of the police cars to try to stop them. They too were arrested.
Once at the police station, two more people from the park were in the lobby at the station. Madden said they started drinking and they too were ticketed.
Madden identified many of those arrested as members of or associated with the Free Keene and Free State movements. People from these groups have met daily in Central Square since last summer, generally to publicly smoke pot. In recent months the Free Keene group has instituted “Topless Tuesdays” which also takes place in the Square, located across the street from Keene Middle School and Keene City Hall. There is no law or city ordinance against being topless in Keene.
Police have largely left the groups alone with only a handful arrests made for disorderly conduct over the past several months.
Arrested yesterday were Jonathan Ray, 33, of 176 Church St., Keene, for having an open container of alcohol; Wesley Golbreath, 20, of 60 School St., Marlborough, for obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct; Megan Steward, 26, who is listed as homeless in Keene, for obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct; Richard Paul, 41, of 816 Elm St., Manchester, for obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct; and Heika Courser, 26, of 3 Fitzwilliam Road, Richmond, for open container of alcohol and resisting arrest.
Arrested at the police station were David Dixon, 30, of 43 Gurnsey St., Keene, for having an open container of alcohol and Jonathan Ray, 33, was issued a second ticket for having an open container of alcohol.
No injuries were reported as a result of the incidents.