Stealing Free Speech

This past Thursday Keene resident James Walters arrived home around 3pm and noticed Keene PD’s Officer Short sitting in his driveway. Officer Short said, “I’d like to ask you about this sign” pointing to an anti-Romney political sign.

Walters asked, “am I being detained?”

Short said, “no.”

Walters asked Officer Short to leave his property and after a brief back and forth, Short asked for a receipt showing proof of purchase or the sign would be taken. Walters informed Officer Short that if the sign was taken, lawyers and the media would be contacted.

Walters said, “Short told me that the Attorney General personally called the Keene PD demanding them to take this particular sign.”

According to Walters, Officer Short then made a phone call, and took the sign.
Calls to the Attorney General’s Office were not immediately returned.

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  1. If you post a sign on city property, don’t be surprised when the city takes it down.

  2. seems like there’s more to this story. why would the Attorney General care about one little anti-Romney sign? Doesn’t make sense.

  3. Did Walters get video? Ridleys rule….Don’t get mad, get video.
    One more thing, how much are these signs? 2 bucks? He should get a new sign with a reciept and put up THE NEW sign, chain the sign into the ground and keep videotape vigil of the sign.
    Would make great Youtube footage.

  4. That’s messed up!what gives them the right to do getting so disappointed in the USA.their takeing all ower rights freedom of speech no rights of religion no rights on what you wear and their trying to get rid of ower rights on personal things,just say for sample abortions,I do not agree nore would I do it.people need the right to chose!Cops just being bullies,cops have more rights than enny one.thay can brake the law and who you gone to call the police they make it clear,We are gone to protect ower own!to me that’s sick and if you try to make a stand on a cop thay will attact you,your freinds and wrong

  5. But when it’s on your so called land thay will take it down.thay can go in your house take what thay want.without a warrant see your wife niged body.well I’m just speeking of what thay done to me and my family in the past.The govenerment is sick and getting werse

  6. Why do I have to wait tosee my post this sucks too

  7. The cop was probably lying. The Attorney General most likely didn’t even know about the sign.

  8. Americans are so dumbed-down they can’t even properly spell, punctuate or capitalize a simple paragraph of plain English. You think their gonna no how too defend they’re writes?

  9. Do you think they know the difference between “no” and “Know” or “writes” and “rights?”

  10. I’m sorry Darryl, I must vehemently disagree: This isn’t an infringement on free speech.

    I honestly believe Sgt. Short when he said that AG Michael Delaney himself called KPD to instruct them to take down the sign.

    I also think the AG was right.

    Looks to me like these signs are stolen and defaced property. The police recovering the property for the owner (Romney campaign) is/was the right thing to do.

    Whoever possessed/modified the sign could face criminal charges.

  11. I’m sorry Bradley, but when you write…. “It looks to me like this sign is stolen and defaced property.”…..that may be what it looks like to you, but without some proof to support that position, it is just an unproven assumption on your part.

    I know when I attended “Ron Paul’s” public announcement that he was running for President they gave out many such posters to anyone attending for free. And Ron Paul even signed mine.

    I’m sure the (Romney campaign) gave away many of their own as well, what people do with them after that is their business.

    What makes you think…. ” The police recovering the property for the owner (Romney campaign)
    is/was the right thing to do. James is lucky Sgt. Short didn’t feel
    like arresting him for “receiving stolen property.”

    Are you saying it was “stolen property?” How do you know one way or the other?

  12. Based on Keith, know I don’t.

  13. Brad, while speaking to James Walters, he informed me that the sign was given to him. Which would make it his property, meaning that he could then “deface” it in any manner he wished.

  14. I spoke with an attorney with the AG’s office on the 30th and was told that the AG’s office could not make a statement about a situation that is being investigated.

  15. That seems like a baseless assumption. Campaigns hand out lots of signs, free. And I’ve never heard of them giving out receipts.

    Anything is rightfully assumped to be the legitimate property of the holder, unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary. Walters is innocent until proven guilty and no evidence has been presented, at all, to support the claim of theft.

    Unless such evidence is presented, promptly, and since Walters was engaging in protected political speech, Short should face a bankrupting 1983 lawsuit. As should the AG, if the AG was actually stupid enough to endorse such an action. The case should be examined by State and Federal authorities to determine if criminal charges are justified.

  16. Political signs are private property purchased for the purpose of supporting a specific candidate. Campaigns give them to supporters under the presumption that they will be used to positively promote their candidate.

    I see four possible scenarios:

    1) The sign was stolen, modified, and displayed.

    2) The sign was obtained voluntarily from the Romney campaign under misleading pretenses (see RSA 637:4) and was modified and displayed.

    3) The person with the sign was a Romney supporter, already had the sign as a result of supporting the candidate, changed his mind, modified the sign, and then displayed it.

    4) The person found the sign abandoned, modified the sign, and displayed it.

    #1, #2, and #4 are crimes, and in #3 the police can still take possession of campaign property if the campaign asks them to.

    I’m not a Mitt Romney fan, I’m just defending the principle of what the AG/KPD did.

  17. 5) The person purchased the sign.
    You conveniently forgot that one. It’s a plausible scenario, people buy signs, I bought quite a few myself and I have certainly never made any agreement as to what I was going to do with them.

    I’m surprised to see you defending this “principle” that allows police to go around demanding receipts and seizing property without any substantiated evidence.

  18. I left that out on purpose because Sgt. Short gave him the opportunity to simply say he purchased it. He didn’t.

    If he purchased it, it would be a non-issue. I’m not saying it is a closed case, I’m just saying there is probable cause for an investigation.

    I think government police (in absent of alternative) absolutely should be protecting property rights.

    It is a delicate balance.

  19. It is an assumption based in what limited evidence is available. I’m sure we may see if I was wrong or not.

    I firmly believe that obtaining campaign supplies under the false pretenses of supporting a candidate could be theft by deception (fraud)…. if the intent of the person was to get the sign so that it could be modified to send an anti-Romney message. Proving that, of course, requires evidence that we haven’t seen yet.

    I’m just trying to present an alternative argument to what normally is found here 😉

  20. It’s not his obligation to prove his innocence.

    There’s nothing that even approaches the standard of probable cause, there. If there were, Short could have obtained a warrant and done it legally, right? Seizing property without a warrant is a serious thing.

    And no, that sort of “guilty until proven innocent” nonsense would not fly with competing private services.

  21. You “firmly believe” that it “could be” theft by deception? Is that like a “definite maybe?”

    At any rally I’ve attended, there have been folks handing out signs, without ever asking what purpose the recipient intends for them. The most I’ve ever seen them do was ask someone who wanted ten signs, whether he actually intended to display them all.

    And, of course, even if such a thing were provable, it’s up to the police to do so, not up to Walters to prove his innocence, as Short demanded that he do (no political campaign, anywhere, gives out receipts for individual, to the best of my knowledge).

    Short committed theft and numerous civil rights violations, and poetic justice says that he should be behid bars, and facing a lawsuit which will take him for everything he has. As should the AG, if the AG actually signed off on such a warrantless (literally) taking of private property.

  22. If your idea of an “investigation” is to go to someone’s house and demand that they either show a receipt or you seize their property… then, no, a private policing agency would do nothing of the sort. They’d first need to firmly establish that the sign was, in fact, stolen, otherwise they’d be committing theft.

  23. Bradley, are we talking about “…four possible scenarios:..” or are we talking “probable cause” ?

    “Political signs are private property purchased for the purpose of supporting a specific candidate.”

    Once “private property” is sold or given away, the original owner no longer holds an ownership interest in the property, unless of course that was part of the agreement. Which I highly doubt would be the case here.

    Just got through reading (RSA 637:4) I can not see how that would apply either.

  24. If the cops let people put up signs bloody dead animals that made my kids cry and kind of freak out than what’s the problem with that!I see all sorts of nasty things about Obama!freedom of speech unless you upset the astablishment!what ever,we don’t stand a chance againenst the big govenerment.thay make up their own rules as thay go!

  25. Because one of the attorney generals friends must have not liked more to the story the guy just got home

  26. I bet your right

  27. Are you a cop or something .You sound like a bullie.just because someone doesn’t spell right or what ever.You don’t think thay can learn their rights!

  28. I think your right.thats Romneys sign and no one should have the right to deface it.i also think people should not be bullied either making fun of someone’s post. why all people have problems some spelling like myself but I work vary hard at some people are over waight,some are just mean!I agree we all need to try to better ower selves not bullie one and other.if that was the case I’m a big man.I could just be an ignerent person and throw my mussels around but I don’t I try to have a logical conversation with them and hear them out instead of just assuming I’m right and their wrong!

  29. Lara you think Americans are so dumb.Then get out of ower county.In America we have morels.respect,compassion,honer.You seem to lack all of them so why are you here.To take from use.I might be learning disabled like you seem to like to throw in my face.But what’s your problem.I love my county and I would die for it.Thats what America is all about.Not picking on one an other

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