Chris Waid (right), Safely in the Median on Main St. in Keene in 2016.
On April 20th, Manchester police conducted another DUI checkpoint, believed to be the first of 2017. As always, Cop Blockers and more than a dozen other liberty activists came out with signs redirecting peaceful motorists away from turning down Bridge St, where they would have hit the checkpoint.
Longtime Manchester Cop Blocker Riaz Kahan stated that the interdiction was a major success, with 90% of cars that were intending to turn towards the checkpoint being redirected to another route, avoiding unnecessary police harassment. Manchester police conduct at least a few of these checkpoints per year and activists from all over the state are attracted to help. It’s another unprecedented level of activism that happens easily and regularly in New Hampshire, since there are active migrations of libertarians moving here. (Check out 101 reasons why, here.)
However, for the first time in the history of Manchester’s checkpoints, an activist was arrested. Not for DUI, but for crossing the street, walking toward the checkpoint.
Chris is a weekly co-host on syndicated radio show Free Talk Live, where we discussed the arrest on last Friday’s show. He’s a rare breed – a business owner who is willing to put his very freedom on the line. If more business owners had this level of courage, they could just ignore the government rather than obey them, and the government would have to go away.
In addition to standing up for freedom of the press, Chris is an active police accountability activist, with many hours logged in the streets, recording cops. It is his right to stand where he wants, so long as he’s not actively interfering in police investigations. By standing in the median, he’s taking his risk and the police have no obligation to protect him, especially from himself. If they try to use the argument that them yelling at him was for his own safety, that hopefully won’t hold up in court. We’ve been in medians frequently for activism in Keene and police here have been mostly respectful towards us. By the way, Chris is a homeowner in Keene, to which he moved his linux hardware business, Think Penguin in early 2016.
He’s currently facing a “Disorderly Conduct” Class A charge – the police’s favorite catch-all to target people they don’t like. Of course, we’ll continue to follow Chris’ case closely on Free Keene, so stay tuned.
The police were definitely watching, with what many suspected to be a police drone surveilling from above during the main event at 4:20. While one could say the drone being police-operated is speculation, there was definitely an unmarked police SUV parked and observing the crowd early on in the event. After I noticed him sitting there, I walked over to the grass near where he was sitting and pointed my camera at him. Within a minute, he said something into a microphone, rolled up his window and left, not to return. You can see it happen in this highlight video (at about 4:38 in) from the event (minus him talking into the mic – that happened before I hit record, sadly):
Besides a few state police cruisers driving by (not unusual for downtown Concord), that was the extent of any obvious police presence. As has been the case over the eight years of this epic civil disobedience event, no one was arrested.
Social media is abuzz as video has been shared of Kristopher Kristolaitis being attacked by police Sunday night at Mr. Mike’s convenience store in Winchester, NH. According to an interview for Free Keene with Kristolaitis, his assailants included officer Michael Paul Laska of Winchester Police, as well as corporal Joshua Murray of Hinsdale police and a third as-yet-unidentified officer. Both Laska and Murray are former Marines. The victim says that WPD’s Laska was the hothead in the video, shouting at the frustrated, angry crowd at one point to “GET BACK!”.
Witnesses say Kristolaitis was arguing with another man, Billy Hillock, when someone called over police. Police eventually responded once Winchester firemen came over to see what was going on. Apparently the firemen were there already on an unrelated situation. As Hillock attempted to leave, police questioned him and let him go, prompting Kristolaitis to ask why. (Hillock is an auto mechanic who happens to work on Winchester PD’s cruisers. Things that make you go hmm…) A Hinsdale officer then asked him his name, to which he responded by saying he’d provide once the officer explained why he let the other man leave. During this interaction, officer Laska approached Kristolaitis from behind and handcuffed him on one wrist without ever telling him he was under arrest. The witness says this is when the video begins. (more…)
Last night around midnight, an NH state trooper pulled over some young men just outside the LRN.FM studio in Keene, NH. The officer must be new to the force, as there are about a dozen liberty-oriented folks who live on this street corner, which means that at any time of the day or night, it’s likely someone is awake and will notice. Experienced cop blocker Renee Kate and I spotted the pullover and after getting on some warm clothing, given it was about zero degrees Fahrenheit, we immediately responded. Here’s the video:
As we approached the scene, we heard the officer badgering a guy in the back of the car about ID. As I understand it, it’s not a requirement for anyone in a car except the driver to show ID, so I told the officer he doesn’t need to be asking for that information. Pretty much right as we arrived, he went back to his cruiser. I then approached the driver and asked if he was okay with us recording the scene. He was. (more…)
I had the pleasure this week of seeing James Carroll of Flex Your Rights give a presentation to a couple dozen students at Keene State College. He covered various aspects of how to handle encounters with police and encouraged not taking a plea deal and going to trial rather than just paying fines.
I found it really rewarding to see James’ presentation. It was informative and relevant to the students watching it and I’m glad I had the night off to be able to record it so others who couldn’t attend can benefit. When James started college in Keene, he wasn’t an activist. Now he’s working with one of the most prominent know-your-rights groups in the world, Flex Your Rights. His path to where he is would not have been possible without his time in Keene and the liberty activism here that had a positive, inspirational impact on his life. What an honor to have had a role in that.
Some people don’t understand why I do the activism that I do. Why take risks by standing up for your rights? Why speak out in favor of peace and liberty? Why do activism that could and does offend? Because as an activist and communicator of the ideas of liberty, you never know whose life you’ll touch. When you stay true to yourself, put your message out there, and stand up for yours and others’ rights, the right people will see it and pay attention. When the student is ready, the master appears. Your actions just might be the spark that ignites the next James Carroll.
Brandon Pinney Awaits Trial in a “Fuck Cops” Handmade Shirt
Brandon Pinney is a NH native who is now facing a year in jail for telling state police to fuck off. His is a classic case of being oppressed for freedom of speech. Historically, people arrested for flipping off or telling off police have been vindicated on appeal. It may not be nice to say mean things to cops, but freedom of speech is meant to protect unpopular speech.
Brandon was arrested at Surry Dam when after doing five-miles over the speed limit he was confronted by a forest ranger. We don’t know exactly how their interaction went, because Brandon did not record video. According to Brandon, the ranger berated him about the speeding and Brandon blew him off in an unkind manner. The ranger then said he would be calling the police and Brandon followed him back to his office. The ranger claims Brandon was pounding on the office door yelling at him, while Brandon says he was not pounding on the door and was in no way threatening the man.
However, the ranger’s testimony was that he was frightened and when state police arrived, Brandon told them to fuck off, and when he repeated it at the request of one of the staties, Brandon was arrested.
One note – during trial, judge Burke said nothing about his shirt, but at sentencing, wearing the same shirt, Brandon was told if he did it again it would be contempt of court. Not only can you not express yourself to police, you can’t express yourself via your wardrobe. Whatever happened to freedom? You generally don’t find it at the district court level.