KPD Officers Tim Richmond and Jake Laporte, just following orders.
For a dozen weeks, Keene police have ignored the weekly “Nightcap” events that have happened in Central Square, Fridays starting at 11:59pm. I had no reason to continue writing about the events here because they were a success – peaceful people having a quiet party in the Common, unmolested by state aggression.
Until this weekend, when the Keene police attacked in the form of ticketing everyone’s car parked around Central Square. This, while nationwide protests are calling for the defunding or outright abolition of police. In fact, just a dozen or so hours after the police targeted and littered their threats on the cars around the Square, it was filled on Saturday afternoon with hundreds of people protesting the police. Though Keene police’s chief showed up with a sign at the previous Keene Black Lives Matter event and pretended to care, it’s clearly business-as-usual for their agents on the street.
While the nationwide protests are rightfully focusing on the most egregious police abuses like the murder-by-cop or rape-by-cop, a major reason why any goodwill the cops might have had has been whittled away over decades, is their constant harassment and targeting of peaceful people for non-violent, victimless “crimes”. That’s exactly what they did on Friday night, when in search of revenue and obedience, officers Tim Richmond and new guy Jake Laporte showed up at our peaceful party.
When I noticed they had stopped in the street in front of a parked car, I walked over to see what was going on and Jake said something about enforcing a night time parking ordinance. I was not recording the scene just yet and I told him that he could go away and go find something else to do. He made a comment about just doing his job and got back into his police crusier where Tim was in the passenger seat. At that point, though there was still some hope he’d do the right thing and leave, I readied my phone to record video of the scene. Sadly he and Tim got out and began littering on the parked cars around the square.
Later the uniformed monopolists on violence claim they were ordered to enforce some “night time parking” city ordinance that allegedly prohibits parking from 2-6am in the “business district”, which they claimed was Main Street and Central Square. Then, on their last stop around the Square, Leigh, who was visiting from Manchester had gotten into his van right before they rolled up behind him. Because he didn’t leave quick enough, despite being in the process of leaving, the officers pulled up to block him from leaving at all and issued their final $15 ticket before leaving the area. Here’s the video:
Stay tuned to Free Keene to see what we do with the multiple tickets issued.
Massive crowd watching speakers at BLM event in Keene.
Finally, average people are showing concern for police violence! It only took thousands of innocent bodies piled up over many years and countless millions of peaceful people arrested for victimless crimes before enough people got mad enough to do something. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops who brazenly choked him to death for several minutes while being recorded on video as Floyd tried to plead with the gang of killers and alert them that he could not breathe.
However, what happened to Floyd was the spark that lit a flame – literally, with large numbers of people coming out from their homes to join in protests demanding police accountability and railing against police violence, which is used more often against blacks, but affects all of the human race. The protestors even torched the Minneapolis third precinct station after police abandoned the property after days of protests outside, which was an amazing victory and was refreshing to see the people’s understandable anger targeted where it was actually deserved.
KPD’s Cristina Paterno and Cheshire Sheriff Eli Rivera hear you, but will they listen and change?
Sadly, some protests have also been sullied by violence committed against people and the destruction of private property in many cities. The destruction of innocent-owned private property has been significant and tragic. However, New Hampshire has thankfully avoided these losses, likely because people here are much more free to defend their property from attackers, with weapons if necessary. The people who are targeting private property are unwelcome among the peaceful protestors and are likely a mix of police acting as agents-provocateur and opportunists who are looking to destroy and/or steal.
Today in Keene, several hundred people gathered in Central Square at 4pm today for a Black Lives Matter protest that rivaled the BLM event from Manchester, NH on Saturday. After nearly fifteen years in Keene, I’ve never seen anything this big in Central Square, ever. Today’s event was probably 4-5 times larger than the biggest 420 rallies in Central Square more than a decade ago.
Large crowd in Keene kneels, fist up.
The honking from drivers was nearly non-stop including multiple large trucks and tractor trailers laying on their horns to cheers from the excited crowd. Keene’s police chief Steven Russo and Cheshire County’s sheriff Eli Rivera were both present in the heart of the park holding signs saying, “We hear you” and taking pictures with people. To their credit, this was a smart move. By physically joining the protestors, the police acting like humans can diffuse anger and deescalate tensions. However, talk is cheap, and “hearing” isn’t the same as “listening”, and it’s certainly not actually changing their behavior.
Will the Keene police stop arresting peaceful people for victimless crimes? It’s the insane war on drugs and other prohibitions that have resulted in people of all shapes and sizes and colors being attacked, imprisoned, and murdered by police nationwide for decades. Keene’s police have made a myriad of drug busts and assisted the DEA in raiding a popular local head shop on Main Street several years ago. A stroll through past posts here at Keene Cop Block shows just a fraction of the lives the local police have ruined in the name of their authoritarian prohibitions. Are they going to now see how they harmed their brothers and sisters, issue an apology, change their ways and send back the BEARCAT armored tank to its manufacturer?
I sure hope so, for their sake, but then again, I’m an optimist.
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…)
Former Police Chief and Convicted Child Rapist Robert K Chambers Sr.
The reason why the government police can be so corrupt and violent is because they have a monopoly on violence. There’s no competition allowed in the marketplace. Worse, you’re forced to fund the police, even if they are doing things you disagree with, like arresting people for possession of cannabis, teens for alcohol, or committing multiple counts of rape against a child.
Many people mistakenly believe all Cop Blockers are against the police. The truth is, I’m not against the police. I’m in favor of when police protect people from real crime involving a victim. I have even assisted the police when they were investigating real crimes. However if police are arresting people for victimless crimes, I will oppose that. I’m a police accountability activist, which means holding the cops to their promise of doing good by reporting on the bad ones. The worst cops are those like Chambers, who are clearly people in search of power over others, as this recent despicable example sadly proves.
It’s of course, not the first time that NH’s top cops have been caught up in ugly news, revealing some of them as corrupt, power seekers. Don’t forget the New London, NH chief who allegedly coerced college girls to take nude photos in the police basement when they were arrested for some victimless crime or another. Or how about the Canterbury, NH chief who allegedly used his position of power to engage in sexual acts with a female teen police explorer? There’s the Haverhill, NH chief who resigned after being busted for DUI. Obviously not all chiefs are low-life hypocrites, but you have to wonder how many of them are corrupt. There’s no way to stop a corrupt officer from rising through the ranks of power, since if you withhold taxes in protest, the very same police will come and attack you and your family. (more…)