In a motion filed in Hillsboro District Court this week, prosecutor George Wattendorf has asked the court to issue a “protective order” against Marc Manchon, a man who runs a YouTube channel called Press NH Now doing first amendment auditing. What did Manchon do that the Hillsboro police need protection from? He released their Body Worn Camera (BWC) footage on his YouTube channel.
You thought police body cameras would help with police transparency? Well, think again. The motion cites RSA 105-D:2 XII, a terrible statute that appears to criminalize editing, copying, sharing, and even displaying any BWC footage. Though the section starts by saying it, “shall apply to law enforcement” agencies who use BWCs, later in part XII, it claims “all persons” are subject to the insane restrictions. It’s an obviously unconstitutional restriction on the people’s right to free speech and to be the free press. See Article 22 of the NH Constitution’s Bill of Rights:
Free speech and Liberty of the press are essential to the security of Freedom in a State: They ought, therefore, to be inviolably preserved.” Among other things, the statute also instructs police to not record interactions with other police employees, meaning any conversations between them is off-the-record.
Manchon received the footage from his discovery request as he prepares his defense on a ridiculous pullover by Hillsboro police. According to Manchon, he was pulled over wrongfully on an long-cancelled restraining order. HPD dispatch misinformed patrol officers that the order was still in place. It was originally put in place by his girlfriend over a non-violent misunderstanding and then it was removed in January after they were able to get back on good terms. They currently live happily together, I know that because she is my friend. She is pregnant with his child, hence, she was also with him in the car on August 12th, when HPD officers pulled them over:
Despite being informed by the couple that the restraining order was no longer in effect, the officers refused to research the restraining order to confirm the claim, instead arresting Manchon and charging him with “Disobeying an Officer”, then later changing that charge to “Resisting Detention”, by allegedly not getting out of the car fast enough for their liking. Later in the month, when visiting Hillsboro District Court for a right-to-record event, Manchon stopped by HPD headquarters and was arrested again for “Disorderly Conduct” and “Breach of Bail” for allegedly asking his viewers to contact Hillsboro Police at (603) 464-5512 to let them know how they feel about their corrupt police activity. It is not illegal to encourage people to redress their grievances with government thugs. In fact, Manchon and his attorney won against similarly frivolous charges in Claremont District Court last year. You can watch that full trial video here.
Hopefully the legislature will update this terrible statute to protect the people from criminal charges for sharing BWC videos and make BWC videos even more transparent and accessible without requiring criminal charges to get the videos in discovery, as right now the statute claims the videos are “for law enforcement purposes only” in part XIII. Obviously this restriction on access is also a violation of Article 8 of the NH Constitution’s Bill of Rights:
Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.
According to Manchon, the Hillsboro District Court has scheduled a hearing on the requested “protective order” for Monday Sept 25th, at 11am.
Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on this ridiculous case and please do share, copy, and display Manchon’s video so Hillsboro’s scum prosecutor can charge dozens of people for exercising their free speech. Speaking and sharing is a right, but if we don’t stand for our rights, we’ll surely lose them.