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”.
Keene Police Officer Joshua English
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…)
Man takes highly dangerous selfie in front of SWAT team – the mask was added later to protect his identity.
After resigning from his job at Eversource over being sexually harassed and going through a difficult breakup with his girlfriend, a local man was having a mental breakdown in early November inside his own home in Keene, New Hampshire. The man has asked to have his real name protected, so I will refer to him in this story as “NBR”. Running on very little sleep, stressed from losing his job and relationship, and dealing with an undiagnosed mental disorder, NBR was alone in his house and had been throwing his possessions out the window.
According to NBR, when his parents, who love their son dearly, heard about his behavior they were quite concerned for his safety and well-being. They called to have him involuntarily committed so he could get the help and treatment he desperately needed at the time. Or, so they thought.
Unfortunately, then Keene police showed up and took things from bad to worse by responding to the mentally ill man with every cop in the vicinity, plus state police. One neighbor reported counting at least eleven police cruisers on the scene. It was a huge show of force considering NBR has no history of violence, nor had he threatened anybody. In fact, NBR was not charged by the police on the night in question with any crimes whatsoever. The police took him into custody without incident and delivered him to the Cheshire Medical Center to begin his involuntary commitment. There was no legitimate reason for such a large police response.
There was also no reason for several armed men with at least one laser-sighted assault rifle and two full-body shields to break down his front door and terrorize NBR. Though he expressed to the officers that he just wanted to go to sleep, he told me he did not resist their arrest.
The video and photo he took during the break-in by Keene Police, who broke down his front door, is stunning, terrifying, and just sad. In the video, at least one laser-sighted assault rifle is pointed at NBR as police demand he put down the phone in his hand. He makes it clear he is recording, thankfully not being shot to death for holding his phone. People have been killed by police in other jurisdictions when police claimed they thought the phone was a gun. NBR even managed to take an intense picture of the event to share with the world to show how dangerous the police can be and how unnecessary their actions were.
Does anyone actually belive this level of force by the Keene Police Department was appropriate or justified in any way? While it was extremely risky, thankfully NBR recorded the situation so it could be shared with others. It is a terrifying view of the police state on display, in a completely and clearly excessive response to an all-too common situation. Police operating policies and procedures should be changed to prevent this from happening again in the future.
Mental illness is a weak point in the Non Aggression Principle, which is the principle that defines libertarianism. Clearly in a society with no coercive state, something would need to be done about someone who has lost their mind and has become a danger to himself or others, and that something will usually involve some level of aggression. However, an involuntary commitment process should not involve men with assault rifles, shields, and overwhelming force unless the person is actually putting people in danger. In this case, NBR was simply having a breakdown in his own home. He was not a danger to himself or others, he did not threaten others, and he did everything the officers ordered him to do without incident. (more…)
A few weeks ago in Keene there was a standoff in West Keene to which dozens of cops and state police responded. They brought out the BEARCAT, MRAP, a bomb robot, all kinds of cruisers and trucks, and apparently every state cop from all over – in full camouflage, plus Keene police and Cheshire Sheriffs.
To their credit, the cops didn’t hurt the man in the home this time, but they didn’t need to respond like this. This is a scary level of police militarization and very dangerous to liberty.
Think this was the first time something like this has happened in Keene? Think again. In 2012 police had a similarly ridiculous response to an even less-threatening domestic incident in West Keene where a man stormed off into the woods while armed. Oh and don’t forget the lockdown of part of Downtown prior to that in 2010 over an abandoned backpack full of beer. More recently, who could forget the ridiculous response to the Pumpkinfest Riots the police created in the first place by raiding peaceful day parties.
Recently I wrote the eulogy for Cop Block, the national police accountability activist news website. Nothing lasts forever, especially in the world of activism, where doing the right thing rarely means one can make a living at it. Burnout is real and has happened to some of the brightest activists to ever hit the Cop Block scene.
Cop Block as a national organization may have died, but it’s not dead here in New Hampshire, where it was incubated – according to founder Pete Eyre – in Keene.
Toward the end of this summer, state and local police set up DUI checkpoints in Cheshire county for the first time in five years. Thomas Parisi from The Jail Paper came out with the group to document the checkpoint. It was set up just a few hundred feet from the bridge to Brattleboro, VT so we had multiple Cop Blockers on both points of entry to the checkpoint with multiple reflective signs alerting peaceful motorists to the upcoming harassment. Not surprisingly, state police statistics reported zero DUIs were found during the checkpoint, though they did write a bunch of motor vehicle violation tickets and make a few drug possession arrests. So, all victimless “crimes” – another huge waste of taxpayer dollars.
Brandon Pinney Awaits Trial in a “Fuck Cops” Handmade Shirt
After being found guilty last year in Keene District Court of “disorderly conduct” for telling state police to “fuck off”, NH-native Brandon Pinney appealed to a jury trial. I’m happy to announce that thanks to a hung jury, Brandon is victorious, as the state has decided to not retry the case. In an email, Brandon says:
Just letting you know that the deadline has passed for the state to retry me and the hung jury stands. While i am disappointed I was not fully exonerated i am glad and fortunate that in my case a jury of my peers was able to see that the situation did not unfold as the state presented it.
For the full initial district court trial video, you can check out this post. At the time, he heroically wore a “FUCK COPS” homemade t-shirt into court. Free speech includes the right to say unpleasant things to government officials. The district court judge, Edward Burke, was wrong to uphold the charge against him and it was good to see some jurors could see the situation clearly. This is a clear free speech issue, and in the long run the state would have lost in its own courts. Brandon stated further: (more…)