Sentinel Reports on Open Container Hearing

Thanks to the Keene Sentinel’s Kyle Jarvis for this piece on last night’s committee meeting and the discussion outside:

A challenge to the city’s open alcohol container ordinance by a member of the libertarian Free Keene group didn’t cause any action, but did produce lots of dialogue Wednesday night.

Much of that discussion happened outside City Hall, between Free Keene members and members of a new group started on Facebook, Free Keene from the Free Keene Stigma, before a City Council committee meeting.

The Facebook group’s members say they want to combat Free Keene tactics, which the group deems ineffective and harmful to the city’s image. (more…)

Full Video of Committee Hearing on Open Container

Pretty much just the bureaucrats came out to speak against repealing the ordinance. The committee, while cracking jokes about being tipsy, declared the hearing “informational”, and apparently that means they will do nothing at this time. Thanks to Nick Ryder for the video:

Open Container CD Idea Update

Regarding my last blog…  a commenter spurred an idea in my head.

If I was going to drink beer in public in violation of the law, I do it from a beer bottle that can be closed with a cap and keep the cap with me.  If the police approached me I’d simply put the cap back on the beer.

If the police asked me if the beer is mine…  I’d say that it is, because if I didn’t it is essentially abandoned property and they can pick it up and dump it out.

If someone, say you, claimed the property as your own, in order for the police to legally open (and use in court) the beer that you just closed, they now need a warrant.  Be sure to assert that you consent to no search of your property, as opening the cap of a container is a “search.”  This takes anywhere from 2-4 hours of the police and court time.  This will get old real fast for the police…  or it is already old, and they’re not going to do it.

As the police cannot lawfully seize someones closed beverage without the intent to get a warrant (and heaven knows they’re not going to want to invest hours and hours and thousands and thousands of dollars in applying for warrants) to investigate whether or not the beverage was used in violation of the law…  it seems to me that they are only left with the option to leave peaceful people drinking beverages alone.

PS: If they did take my closed beer without the intent to apply for a warrant to determine if it is alcohol (and a violation of the law) I’d probably will have a good civil suit against the police for stealing my stuff.  I’d be sure to follow up on this to make sure that they did apply for a warrant.  Once the statue of limitations has expired and the state can no longer initiate a prosecution against me for violating an open container ordinance, I’d be calling Attorney Lance Webber to see what type of civil action I could bring against the government for violating a slew of different statues and constitutional amendments.

(I am not an attorney, this is not legal advice…  Lance is though, and he is exactly who I’d go to if this happened to me.)

Open Container Civil Disobedience Idea

Want to make it impossible for the police to attack people for the completely victimless act of possessing an open container, grind the courts to a halt, and force your local police department to alienate the state forensic laboratory…  all while not actually breaking a law?

Here’s how:


First Amendment Auditor, “Press NH Now” Moves to Keene, Baits KPD with N/A Beer!

Popular YouTube First Amendment Auditor, “Press NH Now” aka Marc Manchon has moved to Keene and has already made an impact on the streets of Keene, catching KPD officer Michael O’Donnell with a bait bottle of non-alcoholic beer:

O’Donnell approaches Manchon in a apartment building parking lot and seizes his beer, then after Manchon refuses to show ID, O’Donnell puts him in cuffs. All the while, Manchon is explaining to O’Donnell that he’s going to have to let him go, pointing out O’Donnell should have conducted his investigation of the beer prior to cuffing Manchon. Once he does look at the bottle, O’Donnell looks embarrassed as he uncuffs Manchon and lets him go.

The whole incident reminded me of the Keene City Council Drinking Game over a decade ago, where activists were wrongfully arrested over fake beers. They dropped my charges in that case a year later, just prior to trial, because they knew it was an illegal arrest.

The City Council Drinking Game was a protest of Keene’s “open container” law that we won in two ways – first them dropping the charges. Second, subsequent iterations of the City Council Drinking Game went unmolested, including one that happened at the next Council meeting after the arrests.

Despite having backed down on enforcement within the Council chambers, Press NH Now’s video shows the enforcement of this victimless “crime” of “open container” continues unabated on the streets. Thank you to Press NH Now for his service to police accountability.