Joseph “Jay” Noone owned a house in Palmer, Massachusetts, or so he thought. Last Summer, the house was seized by the Town of Palmer after Jay failed to pay rent in the form of property tax. Noone holds a land patent on the property and says that he owns no real-estate, which can be taxed, whereas personal property can not be taxed.
On October 25, Palmer held a “public auction” on what they claim to be town owned property. Roughly half a dozen friends and supporters joined Noone outside of the house at 10 am. Jay Noone said, “I’m making people aware this is stolen property.” One supporter, David C. from Keene, NH, held a sign that read, “TAX SALES ARE THEFT!”
Jay, David and the others were told by Palmer PD that there was a “protest area.” During most of the 90 minute open house, the protest area was not occupied.
Around 11:30, Jay and friends went to the Palmer Town Hall to observe the “public auction” of this and other stolen houses. Upon arrival at the Town Hall, signs were spotted that read “POSTED: No video recording at Town Hall.”
Ian Freeman decided that he would record anyways to see what would happen. After we entered the building and asked where the auction was taking place, we were informed that only registered bidders were allowed to attend. Members of the media were barred as well as other members of the public. A Palmer Police Officer instructed Ian that he was not allowed to film. Ian stated that he intended to film and had filmed in that Town Hall previously.
After a brief back and forth in which Ian asked if the Officer was familiar with the Glik decision, Ian was escorted to the Police Department in another part of the building. He was then taken into the booking area on the other side of a Police door.
Shortly after being taken into custody, I heard them say that he was being arrested for “disorderly conduct.”
I immediately asked one of Jay Noone’s freinds if she could send a message to Keene 411 and contact someone in New Hampshire. The news of Ian’s arrest was quickly spread across facebook and via twitter. As Jay’s friend was talking to someone from New Hampshire, Palmer PD told us that we had to leave and go outside into the “protest area.” I replied that I was trying to find out what was happening with my friend who had just been arrested. I was told that he was being booked and would be taken to the court, but that I needed to go outside. As I was walking towards the door, another officer said that I, and the others, needed to go outside. I asked if members of the media could stay inside, and showed him my Press Badge. He responded that everyone that wasn’t registered for the auction needed to go outside into the “protest area.” I asked if he was stifling the free press, and he said “yes.” I complied, as I didn’t want to join my friend in a jail cell.
Around 12:30 we were informed that Ian was being booked and would likely be done in about an hour. Jay Noone said that Court returned from lunch at 2pm and that Ian would likely be arraigned at that time.
We entered the Court around 2:15pm, however no video is available as all cameras, cell phones and other electronic devices are banned from the Court. Ian was initially called before the judge around 2:30 and stated that he would not be taking a plea and would not be using a lawyer. He was released from his handcuffs and shackles and allowed to join the gallery.
Ian was instructed to speak with the Prosecutor and that he would be called back up. Ian was offered a plea deal, which would require him to claim “responsibility” (apparently Massachusetts lingo for “plead guilty”). He stated that he wanted this to go away and that he didn’t want to return to Massachusetts for court. The Judge offered to let Ian pay $50, he asked if he could donate that money to charity, she denied that request and set a court date of December 10.
After leaving court, I took Ian to the Police Station so that he could reclaim his property (cell phone and camera) that was being held as evidence. The Police Chief returned his property to him, only after Ian emailed copies of the audio files from his phone and make copies of the video on his camera. Ian gladly complied in order to reclaim his phone and camera.
Ian must now prepare for yet another trial and return to Palmer, Massachusetts on December 10 to fight this unjust charge of “contempt of cop.”