The mission? Protect the peaceful people of New Hampshire from the Thin Blue Revenue Seeking Line. How? More than 30 liberty loving locals, Free Staters and others alike, spent Friday night, July 25, 2014, warning motorists in Manchester of a suspicionless “sobriety” checkpoint. New Hampshire boasts many quaint laws, including one that requires police departments to announce the date, time and place of DUI checkpoints.
Around 10 p.m. on this balmy summer evening, activists started lining up along Elm Street, the main thoroughfare from downtown. From our vantage point, the single-direction suspicionless checkpoint was tucked behind an incline, hidden from view to approaching motorists. A coincidence? As someone who has only been fined for speeding on a downhill, I think not.
Men, women, young, old, newbies, seasoned activists, some from Keene dressed in reflective gear and sporting radios, held signs to warn drivers: “Official Extortion Station Ahead,” “4th Amendment Dead Ahead,” “Remain Silent,” “Who Needs Probable Cause?” and “Swine Crossing, Turn Now.” As cars passed, drivers honked, passengers waved, people threw one handed peace signs from windows. Many cars turned to avoid the upcoming collection plate.
The previous weekend, in Seabrook, a suspicionless checkpoint yielded the following results: Out of 556 vehicles illegally searched, 9 driving-while-intoxicated arrests were made. As this Seacoastonline.com Letter to the Editor states: “While it sounds good that nine persons with a blood-alcohol concentration over 0.08 percent were off the streets, that means 547 innocent people were accosted and detained without probable cause and made to ‘show their papers’ in order to travel from one place to another.” On Friday night in Portsmouth, one man was arrested for DUI, one was cited for an open container, and two drug arrests were made.
And that’s the rub. These unconstitutional “sobriety” checkpoints cast their nets wider than their stated goal. Whether arresting drivers for blood alcohol levels above 0.08 percent really keeps others “safe” is up for debate, but arresting people for other offenses is de facto illegal. Another troubling aspect is these checkpoints are being funded by the federales. This past weekend’s Portsmouth checkpoint was funded with a $6,864 grant. The police department also received a second $6,864 grant approved for “DWI/DUI patrols,” which involve officers in cruisers looking for drivers who may be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Not to state the obvious, but isn’t that what they are supposed to be doing already?
In Manchester, only one officer engaged us, leaning out of his cruiser’s window to inform us not to stand in the road (we were in a marked parking bay). As things started to wind down, a driver made the fatal mistake of honking in support of our activism while changing lanes, doing so right in front of a squad car. Next thing: Blinding blues and reds. The motorist pulled over. A second squad car appeared, stopping in the right hand lane, blocking one lane of traffic heading towards the checkpoint. 15-20 activists came forward to observe the stop, many of us whipping out cell phones and video recorders, ready to catch the action on camera. We know the drill. The police know the drill. After all, I fought for that right all the way to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, and won. Instead of threatening to steal our cameras, or indeed, confiscating them as they have done in the past, the backup rookie simply said: Please don’t interfere while recording.
Sadly, the driver ended up being arrested. During the exchange with the arresting officer, he answered questions he should not have. An activists handed him a “Know Your Rights” flyer through the open passenger window, but it was too late. A Cop Block activist from Keene escalated the situation, demanding that a supervisor be called and engaging the police in a headstrong way. This, in my opinion, was a mistake. When doing street activism, especially when another person–not an activist–is involved, it behooves you to de-escalate, to figure out a way for the police to save face in order to inflict the minimum amount of harm to all concerned. As the handcuffed driver was being escorted to a cruiser, he consented verbally, on camera, to having one of us drive his car to his home, which was literally around the corner. The police refused to give us his car keys, so at least one tow truck operator got his piece of the pie that night.
Some activists went to the police station to try to bail out the man who was arrested, and almost got arrested themselves. Others resumed waving signs. On the plus side, during the traffic stop, the cruisers’ flashing lights deterred far more motorists than our sign waving had done. Nary a car passed, most turning as soon as they spotted the blue and red lights up ahead. Why? Because peaceful people don’t want to be hassled when going about their lives. Peaceful people don’t want to interact with the police. Peaceful people know a midnight encounter with the Thin Blue Line is probably not going to end well for them, or their wallets.
The Free State Project is attracting thousands of liberty activists to New Hampshire. Friday night’s activities is only one example of the many ways Free Staters are exerting their fullest practical effort to reducing the size and scope of government in New Hampshire. Find out more here in the coming months, and subscribe to the FSP newsletter.
Carla Gericke is president of the Free State Project, a 501(c)(3) organization. Carla is a recovering Silicon Valley lawyer, and holds an MFA in creative writing. She speaks and writes on a variety of liberty topics. The views expressed herein are her own as an activist, and do not necessarily reflect those of, nor are they endorsed by, the Free State Project.
[MY NOTE: This article originally appeared on Shire Liberty News in 2014. Photo from a different protest, “1984 is Not an Instruction Manual” held in 2019 to protest the UnConstitutional police surveillance cameras being installed in downtown Manchester.]
Ruling is one of many nationwide supporting right to record police.
A federal appeals court has ruled that the public has the right to film cops in public and has reinstated a lawsuit against a local New Hampshire police department brought by a woman arrested for filming a traffic stop.
The plaintiff in the case, Carla Gericke, was arrested on wiretapping allegations in 2010 for filming her friend being pulled over by the Weare Police Department during a late-night traffic stop. Although Gericke was never brought to trial, she sued, alleging that her arrest constituted retaliatory prosecution in breach of her constitutional rights.
Read the article at Ars Technica…
CONCORD, N.H. — A federal appeals court has refused to dismiss a New Hampshire woman’s lawsuit against the Weare police department, saying she had a constitutional right to videotape a police officer during a traffic stop.
The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals says citizens may videotape police officers performing their duties unless an officer orders them to disperse or stop recording for legitimate safety reasons.
In its unanimous ruling Friday, the court rejected arguments by Weare officers that they should be immune from liability, under a theory that allows government officials to make reasonable mistakes that do not violate clearly established constitutional rights or state laws.
The ruling allows Carla Gericke of Lebanon to pursue her civil rights violation lawsuit and claims that Weare police charged her with illegal wiretapping in retaliation for her videotaping a 2010 traffic stop of an acquaintance in another car. She was not prosecuted on the charge.
Attorney Charles Bauer, who represents the Weare Police Department, said the police could still prevail at trial if the jury finds Gericke’s conduct during the traffic stop was disruptive.
“There’s another side of the story,” Bauer said Sunday. “Right now everybody, including me, has had to accept Ms. Gericke’s side of the story.”
The appeals court judges say their ruling is based on Gericke’s version of what took place March 24, 2010, when former Sgt. Joseph Kelley pulled over the car she was following to a friend’s house. According to the ruling, Gericke stopped behind her friend’s car when Kelley pulled it over and Kelley told her to move her car to another location. Once parked nearby, she took her camera and began filming Kelley as he spoke to the occupants of the other car. Kelley ordered her to return to her car.
“Significantly, under Gericke’s account, Kelley never asked her to stop recording,” Judge Kermit Lipez wrote.
“An individual’s exercise of her First Amendment right to film police activity carried out in public, including a traffic stop, necessarily remains unfettered unless and until a reasonable restriction is imposed,” Lipez wrote.
She was charged with illegal wiretapping later that night. She filed her federal lawsuit against the department in 2011.
SOURCE: WBCVB News
Today, together with my lawyers Seth Hipple and Steve Martin, I attended a forced mediation at the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, MA. This photo was prescient… round and round we go as the wheels of injustice turn s-l-o-w-l-y. Stay tuned for updates as this case progresses…
How does Ron Perlman in drag only get 5.6 on IMDB? 3, 2, 1… Frankie Go Boom is an instant cult classic. Writer and director Jordan Roberts, who narrated Luc Jacquet’s March of the Penguins, and made Around the Bend with Christopher Walken (queuing) impresses with a filthy, quirky rom-com. This mildly-meta, sex-romp, family-saga with two brothers at odd ends of the camera and morality, showcases Chris Noth channeling Hunter S. Thompson, and Lizzy Caplan from Cloverfield and Freaks and Geeks in an edible bikini top. There’s also a drowning pot belly pig, grandpa gangsters, porn stars, angels, and a strong man dipped in metal. This movie will mos def not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are looking for a laugh-out-loud, random Saturday afternoon schadenfreude sexploit, this one’s for you. 7/10, available on Amazon Prime for free.