Keene Sentinel Reports on City Council Arrests

The video of last night’s arrests is not yet available – stay tuned here to Free Keene for that. However, the Keene Sentinel’s Kyle Jarvis has written up his report:

Two men affiliated with the libertarian Free Keene movement were arrested Thursday night when they refused to dispose of what appeared to be alcoholic beverages during a Keene City Council meeting.

Ian Bernard, 30, of Keene, who goes by the name Ian Freeman, and Sam Miller, 34, of Keene, who goes by Sam Dodson, were arrested by Keene Police Chief Kenneth J. Meola during a recess of the meeting.

The men were part of a group protesting the city rules on having an open container of alcohol in public.

As the meeting began, approximately eight to 10 people associated with Free sat in the audience, some wielding video cameras, including Miller.

About half appeared to be drinking bottled beer, which they’d brought in a small cooler.

About 10 minutes into the meeting, Mayor Philip Dale Pregent announced, “We do not allow alcoholic beverages in council chambers,” and advised the group, “If you don’t dispose of the beverages, you’ll be asked to leave.”

“Who are you talking to specifically?” Miller asked. “Do you see anyone with an alcoholic beverage?”

It’s unclear whether any of the people were actually drinking beer, as one pointed out that the words “not a beer” were printed on the labels.

In a comment posted on, Miller (under the name Dodson) said the drinks “were non-alcoholic malt beverages which don’t qualify as alcoholic beverages under city ordinances.

“The mayor and city manager created the disturbance by stopping the meeting, because they didn’t like the free speech that was going on,” Miller said in the post.

On Thursday, Bernard asked the mayor, “Why did you stop your meeting, Dale? Everything was going fine and then you stopped. Why?”

Pregent conferred with the city’s attorney and the city manager, and announced the council was taking a recess.

The council exited the chambers, and a Keene police officer approached the group and engaged members in a discussion about the situation, along with Meola.

The officer asked each member of the group if he could examine his or her beverage. One woman complied, and he determined her bottle contained water.

Miller and Bernard refused to allow the officers to inspect their drinks, however, and were placed in custody.

At one point the officer told Bernard he was “shaking,” and asked him why he was nervous.

“I don’t know, you have a gun,” Bernard replied.

Meola radioed for additional units, and at least two more officers arrived after the chief cleared everyone out of council chambers.

As Miller and Bernard were led out of the room and into the hallway, both in handcuffs, Miller shouted “the City Council should be disgraced!”

Bernard and Miller have each been charged with disorderly conduct.

A third person was arrested outside City Hall in a related incident, said Keene police Sgt. Todd Lawrence.

Monica Granger, 27, of Keene was arrested and also charged with disorderly conduct, although Lawrence didn’t have details on that arrest.

Police may have been aware of a possible situation ahead of time due to a post made by Miller on Free Wednesday that announced “the Keene City Council drinking game.”

The post established a set of “rules” that specify when participants were to drink from their beverages, including anytime “there’s a call to order; a bureaucrat claims to do something as ‘the City of Keene’; a vote is unanimous; a council member says the phrase, ‘master plan’; they plan to do something ‘for the children.’ ”

Group members also handed out fliers to members of the audience and the council Thursday, outlining their objective for the evening.

“Some of your society’s ordinances are hurting peaceful people,” said the flier. “You as councilor have the ability to end these infringements on personal freedom.”

The handout addressed the city ordinances about alcohol consumption and open containers in sections of the city code.

“Please do the right thing and repeal these ordinances,” it said at the bottom.

Information about Bernard, Miller and Granger’s bail and court dates was not available.

Cheshire TV broadcast cut

Another scene occurred when a decision was made to cut the audio for the Cheshire TV broadcast of the meeting immediately upon council entering recess.

Cheshire TV Executive Director S. Lee Perkins showed up in council chambers and demanded an explanation.

“In the past we’ve cut audio during executive or nonpublic session,” Perkins told The Sentinel. “But not during a recess.”

Perkins was so angered by the maneuver that he pulled his crew, and the second half of the meeting proceeded without coverage from the station.

City Manager John A. MacLean, in a separate conversation with Perkins in the hallway, acknowledged the decision to cut audio was probably made hastily, and that he would speak to the mayor and council about it.

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  1. Wow, I'm impressed. Fair, thorough reporting, including just about all of the relevant facts.

    Quite a few major papers could take a cue from these folks.

  2. The violent gang members calling themselves the city of Keene sure throw a fit over small harmless acts. They seem like little kids throwing a temper-tantrum.

    If they dont like it they should move. Because more and more liberty lovers are moving to Keene. Wouldn't they have a much happier life in a state were people like to be slaves?

  3. This keeps getting better and better. Don't rack up too many misdemeanors, guys. They'll make you rake leaves! LOL!

  4. The idiots at the Keene Sentinel somehow just can't ever get a Keene NH based website URL correct. Years ago a friend's site was misdirected to or which is the Sentinel's own site. In the aforementioned article they again misguided users to when your site is clearly


  5. Nice to see Cheshire TV and the paper question the order to cut the feed. I wish they too, would have resisted. It prevented me from witnessing a "peaceful persons" snarling beady-eyed rant. The Mayor unintentionally prevented Sam's further discredit and embarrassment.

    The pretense of a "Drinking game" wasn't necessary. It would have been more effective to show up and piss on the carpet.

  6. Yeah, the link they provided on their website took people to a site that sells shoes.

    "Duh ah uh, gee boss, how come nobody subscribes to our newspaper anymore?"

    I also noticed that when the pro-freedom responses to the article vastly outnumbered the toady apologists for the state (about 8-1) they killed the story, wiped the responses and replaced the article with one that had most of the original text in it.

    I'm wondering when the editors & publishers of the Sentinel will be confronted with their senseless murdering of trees, just to produce the poor excuse that they got for a bird cage liner.

  7. It made page 3 in the Union Leader ( print version only) . Decent job done my reporter Melanie Plenda.

  8. Can someone scan it?

  9. I don't know why all the hate for the sentinel here. This is a good article, they got all the facts and presented them in an unbiased manner.

    At least the author deserves some credit.

  10. Kyle is a good reporter, from what I can tell. I appreciate his attention and interest in accuracy.

    He also held John MacLean's feet to the fire somewhat about being kicked out of the "public" meeting.

  11. This article was very well done IMO.

    It seems the little tyrants don't like us peasants making fun of their BS.

  12. I so have to move to Keene!!!!

    Keep up the nonviolent activism!!! Love it!!

  13. Its amazing that these bureaucrats don't seem to understand that its their own tyrannical actions that end up causing more activists to pick up and move to Keene.

  14. I wasn't bugged about the article, I was bothered by someone on staff, deleting the positive posts from last night's feedback.

  15. “Please do the right thing and repeal these ordinances"

    I am ashamed of you people. Begging politicians for your freedom?

  16. I love the drinking game aspect of this event.

    I am glad the good Cheshire TV guy refused to keep filming if they are going to censure certain parts of meetings.

  17. dingdongdugong on Thu, 5th Aug 2010 8:34 am

    Wow they really arnt going to like this at all. Cant wait for the video of the inevitable bureaucratic freak out. Make sure you guys have live streaming, otherwise it’ll never see the light of day.

    I can predict the future!

    Where is the footage folks?

  18. Fair reporting indeed! I hadn't heard they had non-alcohol in bottles that said they didn't have alcohol. I was ready to comment that the Free Keene folks have gone too far, but it's looking like the Keene bureauthugs are the ones getting out of hand.

Care to comment?