I have gotten so used to having my camera groped at by authoritative busybodies that I am beginning to feel as though I should question my relative comfort with it. The first article featured on this blog was about a police officer who couldn’t keep his hands off of my phone when it was acting as an audio streaming device. Since then, I’ve had a previous camera clutched so firmly that it automatically powered off, in an escapade that traveled the blogosphere during the first annual lemonade freedom day. My Canon Vixia’s design is much more rugged and durable than the previous Nikon Coolpix I used to utilize for Free Concord videos. And I appreciate the upgraded zoom capabilities and high definition 16:9 widescreen frame. Today, as I celebrated International Chalk the Police day with others, my camera withstained a push from a Keene city parks and recreation director Andrew Bohannon, as he fumbled to conceal his identity from chalkers. After activists had covered most of the central square park in liberty oriented slogans and quotes, a man driving around the rotary yelled from his vehicle at the chalkers to stop. Myself and others waved and invited the person to join us for Chalk the Police day. Moments later, I noticed a man with a phone who had walked up onto the square and begun speaking with people, phone in hand, and an identification swinging from his neck.
As I approached the man, I overheard him imply that he was going to be calling the police because of the chalkings. I inched closer, and he saw that I was recording. Unmistakably, he would notice the PRESS armband adorned to the camera unit. As I zoomed in on his ID badge from over and arm’s reach away, he reaches out and pushes my camera away from him. Standing next to us is Emberlea, a fellow blogger at Free Keene. She claims at this moment that Andy also hit her as he pushed at the camera. You can see his hand fall away from the camera and into her direction, but not everything can be captured from a single angle. What is clear is that after he extends his arm, he takes a step towards myself. I instinctively backed up, and kept my camera just out of arm’s reach while changing my angle. He quickly concealed his badge under his jacket. He then turned away, as though to leave, but remained on the scene while he called presumably the police. When the small crowd began prying as to who he was and why he claimed authority to tell people to leave, he identified by his position with the city. He kept his ID under his jacket for the next few minutes as a conversation ensued about why a city official is concealing his identity while claiming the authority to tell people to leave a park. He would nervously take it back out a few minutes later. I never did get a good shot of it.
Another blogger, Darryl, got some valuable video after the police showed up several minutes later. The police had no interest in breaking up the chalk party — one officer even joined in. Thanks to KPD’s Peter Bowers for contributing to this year’s chalking festivities.
See more coverage from on the ground by Ian at Free Keene and Kate at CopBlock. The interaction was also discussed on tonight’s episode of Shire TV, linked below is the extracted segment.