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Author Topic: Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8  (Read 1036 times)

Dave Ridley

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Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8
« on: March 27, 2013, 08:22 AM NHFT »

Stand by for date, should be at City Hall late March or early April.

This is a reaction to Mayor Gatsas' demand that I seek permission before recording in the City Hall lobby.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGeF52rAuBvUakV0IRVfDDvFiVTwFD2mJ&feature=view_all
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 09:58 PM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Manchester demonstration against Gatsas attack on press freedom
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 09:04 AM NHFT »

Note:  the time has changed slightly.

---

Ok tentative date for a demonstration of some kind:

Mon April 8 at 6pm.   At or outside Manchester City Hall.

That is one hour before a general board of schools meeting.   Gatsas is in charge of the Board of Schools Commmittee under the ManchGov system, and it is the school board I was was originally ordered not to record without permission.

« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 06:23 PM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Manchester demonstration against Gatsas attack on press freedom
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2013, 06:21 PM NHFT »

Copy of letter I just sent to the Union Leader:

Manchester:  Demonstration, civil disobedience at City Hall Apr. 8

Dear folks at the Union Leader:

On March 26, 2013 Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and a city security officer tried to inappropriately restrict recording in City Hall's public lobby. I was there trying to interview local officials.  When I asked Gatsas a question on camera there, he told me I must get permission from the City Clerk's office before filming!  An enraged security officer shortly appeared and made similar demands.  I captured video of both incidents but felt it necessary to leave the scene to prevent the camera from being seized.  That video appears at RidleyReport.com along with details of what comes next.

In the absence of some major unexpected event, there will be an anti-censorship demonstration outside City Hall starting 6 p.m. on Monday, April 8.  Then I intend to enter the lobby *with* my camera recording and *without* asking permission.  I'll try to record, non-disruptively, the outskirts of a City school-committee meeting. I'll likely remain until arrested or until 7:30 p.m...whichever comes first!  I invite all peaceable folk to join me.

Dave Ridley
RidleyReport.com
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Manchester demonstration against Gatsas attack on press freedom
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2013, 08:47 PM NHFT »

Manchester:  Civil disobedience @ City Hall April 8

What: Demonstration, followed by civil disobedience against mayoral censorship attempt.
When:  Monday, April 8,  6:00p.m - 7:30 p.m.  The demonstration starts one hour before a school board meeting.
Why: Mayor & security operative have ordered indie reporter to get permission from authorities, before recording interviews in City Hall's public lobby. See below for details on why that's a concern.
Who:  Dave Ridley from RidleyReport.com; plus anyone else who values the right to record authorities in public.
How:  First we intend to protest right outside the building on Elm.  Then I intend to enter the lobby with my camera running and without begging permission.  All peaceable folk are invited to nondisruptively join me either inside or outside.
Where:  City Hall, 908 Elm St.,  Manchester, New Hampshire
Contacts:  City Hall (603) 624-6500 / Ridley you can contact via RidleyReport.com or find Dave Ridley on FaceBook / Ridley's lawyer Seth Hipple is at (603) 856-0202 or NHLegalServices.com

Updates, vid of original incident:  http://nhunderground.com/forum/index.php?topic=24778.msg347619#msg347619

On March 26, 2013 Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and a city security officer tried to inappropriately restrict recording in City Hall's public lobby. I was there trying to interview local officials.  When I asked Gatsas a question on camera there, he told me I must get permission from the City Clerk's office before filming!  An enraged security officer shortly appeared and made similar demands.  I captured video of both incidents but felt it necessary to leave the scene to prevent the camera from being seized.  Here's the tape:

http://youtu.be/wnatt6rPQBA

This incident marks at least the second attempt by a City Hall employee to limit recording in the public hallways.  Around November 1, 2012...the same security officer approached me upon entering the building:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EEsmAznFvs

He asked if I had permission to film and told me I must get clearance from the City Clerk's office before recording a school board meeting.  He also declined to identify himself on request. Again, I'm more interested in the hallway than the meeting itself, since many meetings are already broadcast.  It's important for reporters or average citizens to be able to question officials on camera in the lobbies/hallways adjoining aldermanic chambers. They should also be able to film any questionable activity they see there that is occurring on the taxpayer dime.  For instance, city security illegally approaching them with inappropriate demands!  But trying to restrict recording of an open meeting itself is probably even more controversial than trying to restrict it in the hallways. This anonymous employee did both and the mayor thus far has backed him up.  In any case, the "get permission" demand is a source of concern for several reasons:

1) Complying with such a demand would let the government decide who can record it. Such a power could or would be abused by favoring some media outlets over others, based on their content.  Does the city force mainstream outlets such as the Union Leader and Channel 9 to get permission before running their electronic devices in the hallways and public chambers?  If not, that would indicate inappropriate discrimination is already occurring.  But it puts us all at risk. "First they came for the little media...then they came for the TV towers!"

2) The additional hurdle of getting permission would have a chilling effect on the on the *process* of reporting.  The half hour you might spend requesting and getting permission...is half an hour you'd never get back.  And what happens if the Clerk doesn't want you to record the request process?

3) Imagine you're in City Hall and someone does something inappropriate to you or gets in your face.  You try to record it but are arrested for "lacking permission."  That is the future we could be looking at if we don't act.  We don't want this to happen to you.

4) The alleged permission requirement violates Articles 8 and 22 of the New Hampshire Constitution...which enshrine press freedom and the right of access.*

5) NH Attorney General Michael Delaney recently issued a statewide memo arguably forbidding what Gatsas just did, saying:  "...in the recent past a number of police departments have arrested individuals for audio and or video recording police officers in public engaged in official duties. I want to alert all law enforcement agencies to a recent opinion of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which makes such arrests illegal.”

6) The Gatsas directive, if you want to call it that, violates NH law, specifically RSA 91-A:2 II, which reads:   "Subject to the provisions of RSA 91-A:3, all meetings, whether held in person, by means of telephone or electronic communication, or in any other manner, shall be open to the public. Except for town meetings, school district meetings, and elections, no vote while in open session may be taken by secret ballot. Any person shall be permitted to use recording devices, including, but not limited to, tape recorders, cameras, and videotape equipment, at such meetings."
 
7) City officials are purportedly big on obeying Washington.  The recent Federal Glik v. Cunniffe ruling reads:  "a citizen's right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public place is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment."

Simon Glik  won a roughly $200K settlement from the City of Boston after its enforcers arrested him for taping authorities in public.   For my part, I've already had to sue the City of Nashua over a 2011 incident where they arrested me while attempting to film outside a Joe Biden event. 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL71E3DB20732E64ED&feature=view_all
 
That Nashua false arrest and failed prosecution led to its share of demonstrations, and this equally questionable power grab in Manchester will have to face pushback as well. I invite all concerned and peaceable folk to join us at City Hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 8.  First we intend to demonstrate outside, then I and perhaps others will enter the building *with* cameras running and *without* asking permission.  All peaceable folk are invited to join me, to go in as shallow or deep as you like, with or without cameras.  I ask that you remain non-disruptive.  I'd also ask that camerapersons remain at various distances from the entrance.   Some close, others across the street.  This will let you set your own level of risk and make it harder for authorities to seize all video of the event.  Live-uploading cameras would be particularly welcome.

In the event of inappropriate interference with this endeavor, "liberty lawyer" Seth Hipple will likely lead the legal defense.  He's nearly undefeated in this area of law.  I would consider suing the City or undertaking some other constructive reaction, and my first choice would again be Hipple's NHLegalServices.com

Restricting recording is like blinding the people. It's an attack on basic human rights and an affront to the First Amendment Gatsas swore he would uphold.  It's also an issue which creates a hill worth dying on.

Dave Ridley
Gonzo Journalist
RidleyReport.com
New Hampshire's #2 YouTube channel
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 08:26 PM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Free libertarian

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Re: Manchester demonstration against Gatsas attack on press freedom
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 06:16 AM NHFT »

Thanks for doing this Dave.   

Looks like the only thing Gatsas is upholding is his appetite.  If there was ever a walking add for suspenders...
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Manchester demonstration against Gatsas attack on press freedom
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 09:42 PM NHFT »

Thanks Free!
Sent to the Mayor's office today:

----

Mayor Gatsas:  I wanted to give you a heads up that I've scheduled an act civil disobedience to occur at City Hall on April 8.  This is in reaction to your statements to the effect that I must obtain permission before using a camera in City Hall's lobby.  It's also a response to the deployment on two occasions of a security officer who made similar demands.   Although I appreciate your candid nature and some of your political positions, I can't let you or your officials dictate who records in the public lobby.  To stop me, you'll have to use force against a lifelong fellow Republican.

Details regarding the event are at
http://nhunderground.com/forum/index.php?topic=24778.msg347673#msg347673


Yours,

Dave Ridley
RidleyReport.com
New Hampshire's #2 YouTube Channel
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 09:57 PM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Manchester demonstration against Gatsas attack on press freedom
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2013, 09:45 PM NHFT »

Sent to the police chief in Manchester:

---

Chief Mara:  Wanted to give you a heads up that I've scheduled an act civil disobedience to occur at City Hall on April 8.  Actually I'm not sure it would be considered an act of disobedience toward MPD since it involves violating an apparent directive from the Mayor, not a law.  But obviously all of us I think enter events like this on the assumption that we could suffer at your hands in some way.

Details: http://nhunderground.com/forum/index.php?topic=24778.msg347673#msg347673

See you there...or not.

Dave Ridley
RidleyReport.com
New Hampshire's #2 YouTube Channel
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Silent_Bob

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Re: Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2013, 10:04 PM NHFT »

Um...

RSA 91-A:2 II:

" Subject to the provisions of RSA 91-A:3, all meetings, whether held in person, by means of telephone or electronic communication, or in any other manner, shall be open to the public. Except for town meetings, school district meetings, and elections, no vote while in open session may be taken by secret ballot. Any person shall be permitted to use recording devices, including, but not limited to, tape recorders, cameras, and videotape equipment, at such meetings."
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2013, 10:20 PM NHFT »

Some folks who can't attend have asked what they can do to help without being there.  Here are some options:

) You could invite a bunch of your NH FaceBook friends to the FaceBook event:
  https://www.facebook.com/events/157083224453600/ 
) Alternative options might include letters to the editor, calling talk radio about it, etc. 
) Recording or demonstrating at a different time, coming to different events that I might have to schedule in the same spot later. 
) Keeping an eye on that primary thread 
  http://nhunderground.com/forum/index.php?topic=24778.msg347673#msg347673
) You could inform mainstream media if I get arrested and send them the link (can't do that myself).
) You could write me in jail should I end up there for any time, or send a book.  The link should eventually have details on that.   I might conceivably need someone to act as a media contact. 
) Discussing it on web forums is another option:
http://nhunderground.com/forum/index.php?topic=2613.0
) Inform national liberty media outlets by sending them a copy of the news release above.
) Whatever you do, let me know you've done it.  Preferably by posting details here on this primary thread.
) Use or presence of a live-uploading camera may be especially helpful.
) I didn't think of this before but I guess calls to the mayor's office collecting information on his stance toward recording would be helpful.
) I don't yet have the name of the security officer who ordered me not to film him; having that would be helpful. 

Thanks for asking, all of you!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 02:32 AM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2013, 01:21 PM NHFT »

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Dave Ridley

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Re: Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 07:52 AM NHFT »

Mainstream or national media coverage thus far apparently consists of Ernie Hancock's show and Girard at Large.  I received an email from WTPL radio about this but don't know if they are covering it.
 
Also any of you seeking additional or breaking details might find them at http://Porcupine411.com

Recordings of calls from the scene will likely appear there. 
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2013, 05:36 PM NHFT »

Thanks so much to everyone who came out for this event. About 25 people in all, though I'm including in that estimate several passersby who joined us.
Sorry for the delay in posting updates.  Only so much at once can the babeee dada do....

Audio updates summarizing what happened....went to the Porcupine 411 link above, the day of. 

Here is the call to FTL about it:
http://www.freetalklive.com/node/29841
It starts around 2/3rds of the way through the audio file

Here is Girard at Large (WLMW) initial coverage:
http://www.girardatlarge.com/arcv/show-archives/2297-show-archive-4-8-2013

Union Leader interviewed me, but I haven't checked to see if they ran anything.
Ernie Hanckock from Declare Your Independence radio interviewed me but I don't have the link handy at the moment, stand by.

Here is a note I sent to Girard at Large on April 9:

"Rich: I'd planned to call in and ask the mayor this question tomorrow morning, assuming he's on with you as usual.  But I don't think I'll be able to make a call at that time.  So it's yours to ask him on the record, or not:

Mayor Gatsas:

That was a good move, apparently declining to act against us and our right to record on April 8.  It makes you look more above the fray.  But people would like to know:  Is it safe for them to enter the building *alone* with recording devices in their hands?  Devices you have indicated they must get permission to use?  I did not feel safe alone in the presence of your angry security officer.   Is he under control, and what is his name?"

The next step?  I don't know yet though I've given it thought.  Normally I only visit city hall every 3 months or so.  In light of City Hall's appropriate handling of the April 8 civil disobedience, some degree of de-escalation or returning to the normal regimen would be appropriate.  The change would be that it may be necessary to bring friends each time.  That however might have a fringe benefit I hadn't thought of....  I could use the opportunity to spread the practice of ambush interviews.  It's not ideal for me to be doing 90% of them myself.  This is an effective if edgy activist media technique which needs to move beyond my channel.   
« Last Edit: April 11, 2013, 06:58 PM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Dave Ridley

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Re: Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2013, 06:37 PM NHFT »

Found the UL article....
http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130409/NEWS04/130409112/0/SEARCH

And here's FreeConcord.org:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmHIeCrMRhFtypU9CDNpoPM3xm1JIqWJT

Cop Block was there and another up and coming but new youtube channel....LightspeedLiberty. Presumably they have or will have video up but I haven't checked yet.  We had two live - uploading cams looks like. 


« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 06:45 PM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Russell Kanning

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Re: Civil disobedience @ Manchester City Hall April 8
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2013, 10:55 AM NHFT »

How nice of them to back off when you bring a crowd.:-)
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Dave Ridley

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