PALM –A criminal charge of disorderly conduct has been dropped against Ian Freeman, the New Hampshire man arrested last fall outside a public auction of city-owned properties at the Town Building.
Now he plans to fight the charge of violating a city ordinance before the event.
A hearing will be held on May 22 in Palmer District Court on a motion to dismiss the violation of the order to be disordered before the public auction. Freeman is represented by William C. Newman, director of the American Civil Liberties Union in western Massachusetts.
“I didn’t do anything wrong … It shouldn’t be a crime to record a video in a public place,” Freeman, 32, said Wednesday. “I am ready to go all the way to help protect those in a similar situation.”
Violation of the order is punishable by a fine of $ 50, and Freeman said he would rather continue to fight the case than pay for it, even though he spent significantly more than that on gasoline. to Palmer, about an hour and a half away. from Keene, NH, where he runs the radio show “Free Talk Live”. It is part of the “Free State Project,” an initiative to recruit “20,000 freedom-loving people to settle in New Hampshire,” according to freestateproject.org
The disorderly conduct charge was not prosecuted in December. At the time, Assistant District Attorney Colleen Martin wrote that he was not being prosecuted in an attempt to move forward with the violation of municipal ordinances.
In a report from Officer Sean M. Ford provided by Freeman, he says Freeman was outside a duplex in Bondsville – one of the properties slated for public auction – and was yelling at the lawyer for the city and was acting in a disruptive manner towards potential buyers approaching the property. Freeman was part of a group that came together to support Joseph “Jay” Noone, a call-in firefighter from Bondsville who lived in the duplex before he was found to be unpaid in taxes. In Officer Raymond L. Tenzcar’s report, Freeman was described as “argumentative” and “confrontational”.
At the October auction, city officials displayed signs saying video recording is not allowed, a move the city manager said was prompted by the events of the summer. previous, at another municipal auction. In the summer of 2011, Freeman was one of the men in town to support Noone, who was going to be evicted from his Main Street property for non-payment of taxes. Freeman and another man ended up attending the auction – and the videotape.
At the last auction, Freeman said there were “stupid little printed signs” warning not to record video, which he called a “clear violation of basic constitutional principles.” Freeman said he thought it was important to be able to use video cameras in public places to have an “objective record.”
“I hope this will be a wake-up call for the town of Palmer,” Freeman said.
Newman, co-counsel in the case with Shawn Allyn, said the motion said there was no basis for making the charge and that Freeman’s attempt to record the proceedings was protected by the First Amendment . Signs banning video recording have since been removed, which Newman called “encouraging.”
“I am encouraged that the First Amendment rights are being restored,” Newman said.
In October, city officials only allowed registered bidders inside the auction over fears that Noone’s group could potentially disrupt proceedings. Police were stationed inside and outside the building to enforce the rule of prohibiting video recording.