This week NH 2020 republican candidate for governor, “Nobody” paid another visit to the state house and testified on a couple of bills. One, SB754, would add dental coverage to Medicaid and the other, SB758, was going to be a ban on Kratom. At least, until the bill’s sponsor saw the huge crowd that had turned out to oppose prohibition and put in an amendment to the bill that changed it into a regulation bill instead.
A standing-room-only crowd showed up to the NH state house on Tuesday to testify against a bill that would ban Kratom, SM758, only to discover that at the senator who submitted the bill changed it at the last minute into a bill that would instead regulate Kratom. It was a sneaky move on the senator’s part, as it flipped the energy in the room. Most of the average folks who’d taken time off to come out and speak against the potential prohibition of Kratom were then relieved that it was now a regulatory bill, without understanding that regulations are also bad for freedom and will hurt the industry.
If you’re not familiar, Kratom is a plant in the coffee family that has helped people break additions to opiates and has helped others with pain relief, while for others it helps them with productivity.
Along the way, whether as part of the libertarian migration to New Hampshire or later as part of a group of despicable NAZIs and other assorted white nationalist types, Cantwell has always been a polarizing figure and has caused schisms and drama withing whatever movement he put himself. This is one of the factors that leads people to believe that Cantwell himself is a federal agent. Having spent many hours with him over the years, I don’t believe he is a federal agent.
One thing’s for sure, Cantwell did do a lot of talking to federal agents in the last few years, and he allegedly even admitted to them having sent the messages he’s now been charged with sending via the Telegram chat app. The FBI raided his house last month on two felony charges, one of “Exortionate Interstate Communications” and one of “Threatening Interstate Communications”. Here’s the two-page indictment. In it, Cantwell is accused of sending the following message to someone over Telegram: “So if you don’t want me to come and fuck your wife in front of your kids, then you should make yourself scarce Give me Vic, it’s your only out.”
The feds are arguing that this is a rape threat. Beyond the fact that Cantwell didn’t say he would rape the woman, a little background and context is important to know. According to testimony at the detention hearing in federal court in Concord NH, the as-yet unrevealed “victim” in this case never complained to the feds about the message, but he did post it publicly online where a federal agent on the West Coast spotted it. The supposed victim is allegedly a member of an internet hate group called “Bowl Patrol”. The group is named as such because they worship the sicko church shooter Dylan Roof and he apparently had a bowl haircut. A Manchester police officer who works closely with the FBI testified that the “Bowl Patrol” was targeting Cantwell’s podcast phone lines with awful calls and allegedly hacked Cantwell’s website. That led Cantwell to attempt to discover their identities and to the chat where he threatened to have sex with the man’s wife if he didn’t give up the identity of the “Bowl Patrol” leader, “Vic”.Cantwell’s racist views are despicable, but the “Bowl Patrol” people may be worse, if that’s possible. Either way, it’s just white hate group members fighting with each other. If they are busy infighting, they can’t be out doing publicly awful things. Rather than just let the white supremacists have their internet spats, the FBI used the fact that Cantwell trash-talked someone on the internet – free speech – to charge him with felonies for which he faces up to 25 years in prison.
That’s twenty-five years for the level of trash-talking that goes on all across the internet, every day. Cantwell’s persecution here is an attack against freedom of speech and also served as an excuse to take his computers, flash drives, guns, and drugs. There’s no doubt that he has a ton of bad karma out there waiting for him for the things he’s said and done, but that doesn’t mean he belongs in prison. Yes, he’s a rude guy with a big mouth and terrible, disgusting ideas, and that’s why he’s a perfect target for a government attack on freedom of speech.
In Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous poem from 1946, Niemoller wrote:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
In 2020, first they came for the “Crying NAZI”. I don’t agree with what he says, but I will defend his right to say it. Cantwell is a target because not only does he have views that good people will detest, he’s also detested by people who hold similar views to his. Not one single supporter was at his bail hearing. He may still have a small fan club on the internet, but according to the federal government, he doesn’t have much money in the bank.
However, Cantwell does know about cryptocurrency and internet privacy tools like Signal and Telegram. The agent who testified, Brett Fernald, explained that Cantwell used bitcoin and that bitcoin could be used to hide money and was anonymous. Though that’s not true – bitcoin is completely trackable. It’s Monero that’s a privacy coin. Anyway, according to the robed woman called a “magistrate judge”, Andrea K Johnstone, in a nine-page detention order, Cantwell’s computer knowledge is one reason he can’t be allowed out of a cage even with severe restrictions like gps tracking and even being disallowed from the internet, to which the defense was readily willing to agree.
The feds also argued at the hearing that Cantwell can’t be relied on to make it to court and cited the fact that he was drunk while on bail in Virginia, despite the fact that he never missed a single court appearance. When Cantwell was informed he was wanted on a warrant for his actions in Charlottesville in 2017 he took a week to turn himself in. Cantwell’s public defender pointed out that he wanted to acquire an attorney before turning himself in, which he did do. However because Cantwell didn’t IMMEDIATELY turn himself in, the prosecutors submitted that was a reason he wouldn’t show up to court.Though Cantwell says he was acting in self-defense in the Charlottesville fights, he took a plea deal on assault and battery charges and that was brought up as evidence of why he’s a supposed danger to the community. That’s despite the fact that Chris has since kept to himself and his apartment in Keene since 2017 and that prior to that he was not known for any violent acts.
Further, they made him out to be meth-crazed lunatic. He may be a lunatic in his beliefs, and who knows what role his meth use several years ago had in forming his current racist mindset, but he’s been off the meth for a long time. A drug screening when he was arrested in January only showed cannabis use, according to the evidence in the case.
During the hearing, Johnstone, overruled every one of the defense’s objections and in her detention order agreed with the prosecution’s ridiculous assertions that Cantwell is somehow a danger to the community. In the order, She cited also his legal possession of over a dozen various guns, including one found inside an unlocked case magnetically attached underneath his car. Johnstone even parrots the prosecution’s point that somehow this was a danger to the school across the street from his apartment.
The guns, alleged threats, drugs, bail violation, plea deals to violent crimes, were all cited by Johnstone as factors, but most critically it seemed that it was Cantwell’s knowledge about internet secrecy techniques that is really keeping him behind bars. Johnstone wrote, citing another case on the matter, US v Savader:
given the defendant’s demonstrated facility with computer technology, it would be all but impossible to fashion terms and conditions that would eliminate defendant’s access to… certain electronic files that could be used to threaten victims
Now the case moves to trial, ostensibly set for April. The federal government has already spent likely tens of thousands of dollars on the court hearings alone, not to mention who knows how much more money on investigating Cantwell over years. After all that money and effort, some internet trash-talk between despicable people is all they have to go after him on. If Cantwell is convicted here, he’ll be a proverbial canary in the coal mine. The federal government would like to get a conviction here so there’s a precedent set for prosecuting people who say ugly things. Who will be targeted next? Maybe some trash-talking teens on an Xbox or Playstation online video game?
If you’d like an in-depth discussion of my experience attending the detention hearings, please listen to this episode of Free Talk Live. This link will start you where the topic comes up. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on Chris Cantwell, political prisoner. #FreeCantwell
Now, the votes are in from the full state house, and it has passed the house with a veto-proof margin – 236 to 112! Though it was veto-proof, it was just barely so, with just over 67% of those attending today voting in favor of it. In 2017, the state house voted nearly 90% in favor of the initial cannabis decrim bill.
HB 1648 is a really good cannabis decrim bill that improves on the one passed in 2017 that made possession of under 3/4ths of an ounce of flower and under 5 grams of concentrate a violation instead of a misdemeanor. If it passes this year, HB 1648 will eliminate any penalty for people over 21 possessing those amounts. It will no longer be something police can act on at all. The bill, significantly, also allows adults to grow their own cannabis at home.
The bill is not perfect, of course, as I pointed out during my testimony in the two-hour long hearing. It still treats people under 21 like children by retaining violation-level penalties for people between 18 and 21, and also penalizes people under 18 for possession by forcing them into the juvenile system. That’s not fair or right. Also, the limits on the amounts that would be legal to possess are too low. That said, it’s a major step in the right direction and does it without creating a taxing and regulatory structure. Also, please note my summary of the bill is based on its text as-introduced. It was passed with an amendment that is currently not available to read online.Next, the bill heads to the NH senate and its sponsors already include one democrat and one republican state senator, so hopefully that bodes well for its chances. We know that the current republican governor, Chris Sununu signed the first cannabis decrim bill in 2017 but has opposed legalization. That he opposes legalization is actually a good thing however, as all of the legalization bills so far have included regulations and taxes on cannabis. People who want freedom support ending prohibition but should not support taxing and regulating cannabis. Cannabis should be free to grow, sell, and possess without any penalty and that includes having to beg permission from the state gang to offer it to others.
While the decriminalization bill doesn’t decrim sales of cannabis, it is still a big step away from reducing the harm done to adults by the insane war on drugs and allows people over 21 to possess it without fear of police assault. Hopefully the governor will support this continued decriminalization of this amazing plant. If not, hopefully the NH senate will also pass it with a veto-proof margin. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.
The bill is not perfect, of course, as I point out during my testimony in the two-hour long hearing. It still treats people under 21 like children by retaining violation-level penalties for people between 18 and 21, and also penalizes people under 18 for possession by forcing them into the juvenile system. That’s not fair or right. Also, the limits on the amounts that would be legal to possess are too low. That said, it’s a major step in the right direction and does it without creating a taxing and regulatory structure.
The real shocker at the public hearing this week was the lack of any police presence. Having attended these cannabis hearings over more than a decade, this is the first time where the police not only did not speak against the bill, but weren’t even there watching. The chiefs of police association did sign the blue sheet against the bill, and were the only ones to sign against it. All other signatures were for the bill. Plus, of all the various people who spoke, there was only one who spoke against it, the woman from prohibitionist busybody group “New Futures”. All the other voices were in favor of the bill passing.
One prominent speaker for the bill was NH 2020 gubernatorial candidate “Nobody” who has announced he’ll be challenging incumbent governor Chris Sununu this year in the republican primary. Nobody’s perspective on the issue is valuable as he has been prosecuted and sent to jail in New Hampshire for selling cannabis. He has promised that if elected, he’ll pardon every non-violent drug conviction in New Hampshire history.
Nobody told the house Criminal Justice panel that rather than punishing people under eighteen by putting them into the harsh juvenile system if they are caught with cannabis, the most the state agents should do is call their parents. He said further, “The idea that kids should be subject to more criminal liability than adults kind of flies in the face of reason, when you think about it. I mean, we’re going to attach a criminal penalty to your behavior because your mind is not well enough formed yet to make decisions that have a lasting impact. Well, don’t you think it’s possible that taking criminal sanction against somebody has a lasting impact on their life? Maybe they shouldn’t be bound to that by a decision they make so young.”
Here’s the clip of just Nobody’s testimony:
Over the last several days the video and story about Keene High’s “school resource officer” Joshua English attacking and tackling a student for allegedly vaping in the school’s bathroom, has gone viral. However, there’s more to the story than cop-attacks-teen, though this incident alone is bad enough. In case you haven’t heard about this incident, according to other students the young man who was viciously attacked by English was vaping in the bathroom and English confronted him. The student heroically refused to identify himself to the armed, intimidating, uniformed man and walked out of the bathroom. Moments later, English bursted out of the bathroom and tackled the peaceful student, subduing him with a shocking level of force.
Thankfully, another brave student pulled out their phone upon hearing a commotion from inside the bathroom and captured the entire tackling on video:
Understandably many are outraged at the officer’s use of force over a simple vaping incident, but that’s not really what caused English to fly into a violent rage. The young victim’s real crime was disobedience. The youth had the gall to act as though he were a free man, walking away from a threatening, potentially violent anti-nicotine nuisance and attempting to go about his day. English has his “authority” to worry about and can’t possibly be seen by others as someone who one could just walk away from without consequence, so he used violence to dominate the young man in front of a crowd of people.
Keene Police have been making headlines nationwide for proclaiming that English was fully within police guidelines for his use of force against the “subject” – yes, that’s actually how they refer to the rest of us non-gang members. Keene police chief Steve Russo exonerated English in a recent release, saying his agent had not violated any department guidelines or state statutes, but Russo said further that English was worried the young man was a potential trespasser, claiming to the Union Leader, “At that point, he didn’t even know he was a student”.Perhaps English needs to have his memory tested. While it would certainly be hard to remember previously seeing one random male in a school with over one thousand students, how could English forget that he’d written the same young man a ticket for “possessing tobacco products” two weeks prior? The student’s father showed the proof of this claim to WHDH-TV in Boston.
While Keene Police are trying to make English look like a hero protecting the school from a potential intruder, the reality is much different. In KPD’s official release, they claim the Keene Police and the school district are, “committed to maintaining the safety and security of the students…which may regrettably include when necessary, the use of force to secure that safety.” There were no allegations the young victim was doing anything violent. He was allegedly vaping in the bathroom. No one was threatened by the young man. The only dangerous, violent threat in Keene High School that day was Keene Police’s Joshua English. Who is he?
Don’t expect the mainstream media to do a modicum of digging about English. Otherwise you might have already discovered English shot a man to death in Keene back in 2010. Free Keene blogger and former police officer Brad Jardis covered the story here when English was found to be within the state’s use-of-force guidelines in the shooting incident. In that case, the man who was shot by English was holding a knife to a woman’s throat, so our blogger Jardis agreed with the shooting as necessary. However, is it really the best decision to assign one of the only officers at KPD who has violently taken another human being’s life the duty of being the high school’s cop? (more…)