Just over a month has passed since attorney Seth Hipple spanked the notoriously corrupt Weare police in court and snagged a $57,000 settlement for Carla Gericke (the president of the Free State Project). Now, Hipple wins again and Weare is paying up $35,000 more to another liberty activist, Biker Bill Alleman, who was also arrested by Weare police for recording video in public in 2011.
In a press release announcing the settlement, attorney Hipple says, “The precedent set in Gericke v. Begin is just now starting to ripple through the courts…and I look forward to seeing many more victories for the First Amendment and government accountability in the coming years.”
Biker Bill is quoted in the release as saying, “I really hope we’ve seen the end of this unlawful nonsense in New Hampshire…Public servants need to understand, finally, that they’re ‘at all times accountable’ to the people.” On his facebook page, Biker Bill credits the Free State Project community as the reason for the success.
As part of the settlement, Biker Bill was given a written apology from new-to-the-job Chief John D. Velleca. Apologies from police are VERY rare. It states, in part:
“After reviewing your case and applicable case law, including the recent decision in Gericke v. Begin, we have concluded that your arrest… should not have occurred. Accordingly, we regret and apologize for your arrest and prosecution…I will continue to educate our officers on the importance of understanding and respecting the rights of all citizens, as well as the influence new case law has on policing.”
Will positive changes actually come to Weare PD? Don’t get your hopes up. In the meantime, the portion of the $35,000 that went to Biker Bill should buy him a fancy new camera!
Meanwhile, the NH State Police have created a similar case in their recent arrest of Free Keene blogger James Cleaveland for recording in public. How much will Cleaveland be awarded in the end? Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on the War on the Press.