During the trial of the Trespassive Three who were charged with the dastardly crime of Criminal Trespass for refusing to end a protest at the appointed hour, the State and it’s minions made some pretty ludicrous statements. Many of them were so over the top that they require no rebuttal, simply to be pointed out and laughed at. For instance; if the jury finds these three not guilty, anarchy will reign supreme, the parks will turn into campgrounds and the grass and trees in the parks will die. There were however a few statements that I believe warrant a closer examination.
To begin with, Officer Robert Cunha stated that the reason another officer followed him into the park and recorded his interactions on the evening of the arrests was because there had been a previous incident in which officers were ‘forced’ to confiscate cameras in order to preserve evidence and they didn’t want that to happen again. While I appreciate the department wanting to have a record of what actually happened and not wanting to confiscate cameras, I take issue with the idea that the confiscations were necessary at the referred to incident which took place the day of the police brutality protest in front of the MPD.
The facts of the situation are that the department confiscated at least 6 cameras and phones under the guise of them containing evidence. The truth is that the police department had two pan, tilt, zoom cameras mounted on the front of the building and could clearly see and make their own record of what happened. Second, WMUR was there and the police didn’t see fit to confiscate their camera. I was told that it was because WMUR would have voluteered their footage. Well if WMUR was going to volunteer their footage, why did they need mine? Further, I was never asked to forward a copy of the footage I had recorded and there was no reason to believe I would destroy it. Even if I had refused to provide a copy, without exigent circumstances they should have gotten a subpoena instead of walking across the street and taking my camera out of my hand. Third, since when is the eyewitness testimony of a dozen cops not good enough evidence even without any video recordings? Fourth, none of the confiscated footage was ever introduced by the state at the dozen or so trials that took place relating to the incidents that transpired that day, so clearly it wasn’t critical enough for them to be violating the property rights of a half dozen people. The truth of the matter is that they were pissed off because their precious memorial had been chalked on and were looking for any reason to crack down on the protesters. They found a legal loophole which allowed them to do what they already wanted to do, and they exploited it.
The second claim that the persecutor made over and over was “all the protester had to do was move onto the sidewalk”. Cunha also made this assertion. This is blatantly false and the truth was captured in this video that they didn’t manage to seize on the day of the calking incident. Beginning at 4:15, you can see what happens to protesters on a sidewalk. The officers lined up shoulder to shoulder and pushed us a block down the way. At that point we were well past the ‘crime scene’ they were taking pictures of but they still managed to manufacture a reason to arrest Garret and Pete claiming that they were blocking the side walk. Well one, there was no one trying to get by so who was being blocked? Two, even if we weren’t there, they had closed the ‘crime scene’ so no one was getting past at any rate. Three, if anyone was truly blocking the sidewalk is was them. Four, they kept telling us that we had to ‘keep moving’ and arrested people for not moving fast enough. Therefore the assertion that the Occupiers simply could have moved their protest to the sidewalk is an out and out falsehood. The videos clearly show how MPD handles protests on a sidewalk.
The State was unfortunately able to incorrectly frame the situation as the protesters deciding not to leave the park and deciding to get arrested. The only thing they decided was to practice their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The State claimed that other people had ‘chosen’ to leave without getting arrested when the truth is the other people were intimidated into vacating a public area. The persecutor was right about one thing though, the trial was about choices. The City had the choice to violate the rights of the protesters or not to. They chose to. The police had a choice to uphold the constitution, the supreme law of the land, or disregard it in favor of a city ordinance. They chose poorly and in this case ignorance certainly is no excuse as I clearly informed them of these facts at the time of the arrests (beginning 9:25)
The State further claimed that the defendants were asking to be treated differently, special. The truth is they only asked for the city to abide by the supreme law of the land as written and understand that they are not above the law nor are can can flout it with arbitrary edicts known as city ordinances. If bureaucrats are allowed to tell us when, where and how we can assemble, speak and seek redress of grievances, then we don’t really have rights which protect us from our servant government, we only have priviledges granted by our government masters. In the end what this trial illustrated was that HDT was the man, as are those willing to follow in his footsteps of disobedience.