Thanks to the Keene Sentinel’s Kyle Jarvis for the follow up story he wrote about the people calling themselves the “City of Keene” suing Robin Hooders. The story is on the front page, above the fold:
The city of Keene says its parking enforcement officers need protection against members of a local pro-liberty group, and has filed court action to do so.
The petition, filed earlier this month in Cheshire County Superior Court, seeks to establish a 50-foot safety zone around the officers to alleviate what the city terms “harrassing behavior.”
The “Robin Hooders” have “regularly, repeatedly, and intentionally taunted, interfered with, harassed, and intimidated” the officers by “following, surrounding, touching or nearly touching, and otherwise taunting and harassing” and video-recording the officers, according to the petition filed by City Attorney Thomas P. Mullins on May 2.
The city seeks a court order for the Robin Hooders not to “interfere, harass or intimidate the officers” and keep a distance of at least 50 feet away from them.
The Robin Hooders, many of whom are associated with a loosely organized pro-liberty group, have tried to prevent parking enforcement officers from doing their jobs, including feeding expiring parking meters before officers can write tickets, according to the petition.
Mullins noted that the city doesn’t contest the Robin Hooders’ right to do that, nor does the city “seek an order to prevent (the Robin Hooders) from exercising their Constitutional rights to video record (the officers) from a comfortable remove or otherwise to express their opinion.”
The city names Graham Colson, James Cleaveland, Garrett Ean, Kate Ager, Ian Freeman and Peter Eyre as primary offenders in the petition.
The filing also contains affidavits from the city’s three parking enforcement officers, including Alan E. Givetz, who said that in addition to contemplating resigning, he has experienced physical and personal hardship as a result of the Robin Hooders’ activities.
“Besides following me, crowding around me, bumping into me, making video recordings of my activities, and placing coins in expired meters to prevent me from writing tickets, these individuals repeatedly taunt and harass me, asking why I am stealing people’s money and telling me to get another job,” he said.
Givetz said Colson, in particular, has “directed numerous personal attacks at me, calling me a … ‘coward,’ ‘racist’ and ‘murderer of brown babies’ (as a result of my prior military service), and ‘boy.’ ”
As a result, Givetz said he often feels “very stressed and anxious, and have considered quitting my job as a parking enforcement officer,” which he said “is exactly what (the Robin Hooders) want to have happen.”
Givetz said he’s come home from work “with a red face, feeling heart palpitations, and having dreams related to this activity.”
He also said the incidents have crept into his personal life, including one incident in which Colson allegedly confronted Givetz as he ran errands downtown on his day off, which “escalated into a heated exchange,” Givetz said. “I no longer feel comfortable bringing my family to downtown Keene out of fear that I will once again be harassed on my personal time in front of my family and friends.”
Enforcement officer Jane E. McDermott said Robin Hooders have repeatedly taunted and harassed her, including calling her a “thief” and asking her how she sleeps at night.
One day, McDermott said, Colson grabbed her by the arm “in an attempt to stop me from removing their propaganda from a car windshield.”
Robin Hooders often leave a calling card on the windshields of vehicles they’ve saved from parking tickets.
McDermott said she now delays her lunch and bathroom breaks in order to avoid the group, and no longer takes lunch breaks downtown, instead traveling out of her way to the police station on Marlboro Street to avoid being confronted by the group.
“In reference to bathroom breaks, when I do take one, I often find these individuals waiting outside the door,” she said. “All of this is intimidating and makes it more difficult to do my job.”
Linda A. Desruisseaux said she has been harassed for several years by members of the group, but said it became a regular occurrence beginning in December 2012.
The parking enforcement officer said Colson allegedly “likes to taunt me by saying, ‘Linda, guess what you’re not going to do today — write tickets.’ ”
Desruisseaux said the behavior “tends to get worse when there is a group, as they try to one-up each other at my expense,” adding that she, too, now eats lunch at the police station to avoid being confronted by Robin Hooders.
All three parking enforcement officers said they’ve altered their routes and routines in an attempt to avoid the group, and that they have written significantly fewer tickets since the alleged harassment began.
The parking enforcement officers also said they’ve been told by Colson that he is being paid $5 an hour to prevent them from doing their jobs.
The petition comes on the heels of an investigation into the alleged behavior by city officials earlier this year. Keene’s human resources department hired former Keene police captain Peter S. “Sturdy” Thomas to determine whether harassing behavior was taking place, city officials said previously.
Thomas spent 46.5 hours over roughly a 3½-week period beginning in mid-March videotaping the Robin Hooders, and was paid a total of $1,339.67 for his work. That money came out of the city’s safety and security budget, city officials said.
Once all parties have been served with copies of the petition, the Robin Hooders have 30 days to respond before the court schedules a hearing.