I was shocked to hear the news on WKBK earlier this week that Brian Costa, Keene’s police chief since 2015, had died in his home one week ago. I was even more surprised to learn he was just 46 years old. Unlike his predecessor, Brian treated me like a human being. He was kind, respectful, and approachable. Surely he and I disagreed on various subjects, but that never stopped him from being willing to work with me where we agreed. The few times I’d interacted with him in his too-short-a-term as police chief, I was impressed with his humanity and professionalism. Though I didn’t know him well, I wish I did.
Years ago when I moved here, as many activists do, I had an axe to grind with the police. The police, as the enforcement arm of the state, were obviously the bad guys. However, as one of the original Cop Blockers, (Badge #5) out in the streets as often as I was, it didn’t take me long to begin connecting with the Keene police as fellow human beings (instead of mindless statist automatons, which is easy for us libertarians to think about police if we don’t know them). The most memorable early paradigm-shifting encounter was my ride-along with KPD’s Shane Maxfield, nearly a decade ago.
At various different activist events in Keene, (the home of Cop Block) I encountered Brian Costa on multiple occasions, who prior to becoming chief was one of KPD’s two captains. However, due to him being a captain, his responsibilities were more management than they were patrol, so our contact was fairly limited at that time.
Imagine my pleasant surprise then, when one day shortly after Brian’s appointment as Keene police chief, I was standing out in Central Square, distracted by something on my phone. As I looked up from my device, there he was right in front of me! Brian was dressed in his full Keene police uniform, as any other patrol officer would be. He explained that he’d seen me from his walk downtown and he wanted to introduce himself.
I’ll always remember that about him. I was struck by how humble he appeared. Not only was he not above walking the streets like any other KPD officer, but that he would take time to come over and say hello was really impressive. I was happy to meet him officially and grateful to be treated like a human being by KPD’s chief for the first time in years.
Then, early in 2016, Brian called me out of the blue and asked me for help. There was a bad batch of heroin that had been hitting the streets and leading to overdoses. He had reached out to me as the publisher of Free Keene (Keene’s most popular blog and a Google news source), hoping that I would help get the word out about the bad batch of drugs. Of course I would. Though I’m against the war on drugs and it was Brian’s job to enforce it, we found common ground in the goal of harm reduction. I told him I’d get on it, thanked him for thinking of me, and immediately published this article about the bad dope. When I share goals with someone, despite our differences, I’m willing to work with them to accomplish our common goals. This builds bridges between people on opposite sides of other issues, increasing the likelihood of further communication and a growing mutual respect. Brian understood this, and he earned my respect by being a decent person.
Now, he’s gone from this world, and WAY too soon. Whoever is chosen as his permanent replacement has some BIG shoes to fill. I really wish I could have gotten to know Brian better. I feel like I missed out. (more…)
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…)
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.
In November of 2015 the Secret Service gang came to Concord and took over the state house property, stripping all entrants (except law enforcement) of their weapons. They even took Vermin Supreme’s pony.
It seems that wherever the Secret Service goes, the supposed rights guaranteed by the constitutions, both NH and US, disappear. In December they visited Keene State College where Keene police officers were used to supplement the Secret Service agents. Ben Carson, one of the Republican presidential candidates, was scheduled to speak.
After subjecting my camera bag to a dog sniff as well as a metal detector just to get in the building, I decided to go outside and see if I could ambush interview Carson as he arrived. However, multiple KPD officers and secret service had set up a “secure zone” behind the building. Here’s the video of what happened:
Just three days prior to the Carson event, James Cleaveland had won in court after being illegally arrested by state police at the scene of a suicide in 2014. This fact did not stop Keene police officer Jason Short from threatening me with arrest for not moving back fast enough from the alleged “secure zone” outside the college’s student center.
I mentioned the state police’s loss in James’ case and Short told me that he, “won’t lose this one” as he told me to move back to the dumpsters. I began moving back, but not fast enough for his liking. He then tells me I have three seconds or else I get kidnapped. (more…)
In the summer of 2013 I met Robin Hood founder and activist James Cleveland.
While riding my bike and feeding meters with Robin Hood of Keene I was approached by Officer Christopher Simonds of the Keene Police Department .
He asked me if i was chilling with the Free Staters and I answered “Yes, I am.”
The conversation went into talking about football and kids .
When I returned home I noticed a new video posted on Youtube from Freeman TV raw.
In the video, James, was increasingly concerned on the amount of time K.P.D had me there.
In the video James was driving in his car with Robin Hooder Garrett Ean.
After I saw this I inquired about who this activist was and I also searched relevant video’s.
I saw footage of this man getting punched by local drunks , going through numerous DUI checkpoints, going to chalking events, city hall meetings , involving himself in membership meetings, speaking keynotes at conventions and traveling to statewide liberty events like PorcFest and Liberty Forum.
I thought, “WOW, what an activist, but what about the person ?”
James invited me to go along with him and two others to a Summer DUI checkpoint in Manchester and there I learned about the type of heart this guy has. His beliefs and his views against Police and Federal take over.
During the event the amount of activists in Manchester was uncanny.
There were 30 to 50 activists holding signs , some alone and some in little groups of five or six people.
In front of one of the groups a Manchester cop dared to pull over a car .
The driver was impaired and I saw first hand how James responded to the victim being caged for alleged impairment. James yelled where do you live while ignoring the Officers request to not speak to the driver.
The driver yelled “A block away , next street over on the left , second house.”
James yelled back and told the guy “Give me your keys! I will drive your car home . ” The Police officer got a little combative and tossed fake policies he made up from his head then denied this action in any way he could .
This did not shut James down he followed the Cop with the kidnapped victim to the police department and bailed the guy out of jail.
I have never been so impressed with anyone like i was on this night .
This well spoken , clean cut , activist with a soft persona was the most effective activist I have yet to encounter.
He built a new business which he later sold due to a string of bad luck which started with a false arrest when getting inventory in another state for his business. After spending huge amounts of funds on his defense because of a ridiculous Lawsuit filed by the City of Keene against him , which later was dismissed ,appealed and dismissed again. He was then arrested again for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct which went to a bench trial only to be appealed. Then, today a Jury in Superior Court found him not guilty of resisting arrest and there was an even split 6/6 on disorderly. Consequently a mistrial was issued .
This activist, James Cleveland, went into a war zone in the midst of SWAT soldiers and hot headed local Cops chasing a Robbery suspect with a gun!
The individual with a gun killed himself with a self inflicted gun shot .
The Cops lied and made up stories about James resisting arrest and making a make believe imaginary line area in which they caledl off limits.
After he came out of his hearing today , James had a big smile on his face as he was greeted by friends , his love interest , and fellow activists.
To be involved in several types of mind blowing activism that have gained national attention such as Fox news, Colbet Report , among others .
would classify him in my mind as a Pillar of activism in our community.
September Third 2015 Approximately 11:00 pm Copblock Activist and Reporter was investigating a story about extra police being hired by the College to enforce their new No tolerance Noise and crowd policy .
While in front of 73 Winchester St. a brown House called the ( Hockey House ) was seen and overheard talking to the Police . Specifically a Hockey player named Andrew Peirce one of their top scorers of the KSC Hockey Recreational Team.
Officer Matthew Griffin was seen with another Officer speaking to him for an extended period of time on September 2nd along with a few other Students who live at the Hockey house .
The video you see here is two un identified players of the Hockey team very immaturely bullying , calling names , saying things like “Faggot” , ” old Fuck” ,”get a Job” , even went far as making fun of the sneakers and bike the CopBlocker had .
Excessive violent behavior , bullying , yelling and screaming like a child throwing a fit shouldn’t be tolerated by any athletic team in the College.
This behavior should be embarrassing to everyone who is associated with these two Cop lovers who turn their neighbors in for their buddies in the Keene Police Department .
This is part of a new Tactic by Keene Police to smear activist in their efforts to try to stop victimless crimes for revenue like open container and noise ordinance fines .
Well news for the Hockey House , the City of Keene just passed a new ordinance that College kids need to be quiet at 10 pm instead of 11pm .
So when every member of the house hold gets a 250 dollar fine , remember the Cops are your buddies so its ok …