Today I went to District Court in Keene for my arraignment for alleged parking violations. I was joined by 3 other activists contesting tickets who also had arraignment. Nemi Jones, Cecelia Freechild, and Kelly Voluntaryist. We were joined by cameramen and activists who came out to support us like Ian Freeman, Pete Eyre, Jason Rapsher, and David Crawford.
It was great to have the support of so many activists. People in the “audience” section around me were talking favorably about the literature they had received from some of the activists they had encountered in the court lobby earlier this morning.
Two young people who sat behind me came to court with their mother to pay a fine. They relayed to me that the young lady was teaching her younger brother how to drive a manual transmission in a parking lot when the car stalled out and made a loud noise which attracted the attention of a blue-light gang member driving by. He issued them both tickets because the driver’s older sister was not yet 25, which she must be by law in order to instruct a young driver. The young lady also told me that another cop from a nearby town, Swanzey, came to the scene and was being “real buddy-buddy” with the Keene police officer. She said he was asking if the other officer wanted him to hold his flashlight for him etc., and it gave her an eerie feeling. Things really got weird when one of the officers pulled out a personal camera and started taking photographs of the young lady. She said this made her uncomfortable, and she found it highly unusual.
Another young man who sat in the row behind me relayed to me his story: he was being arraigned on charges he acquired Halloween night when he drunkenly walked into a convenience store to get the attention of a pretty girl. When she wouldn’t pay him any mind, he jokingly “stole” a $0.65 candy bar and pretended to walk away out the door. When another coworker saw this, she told the young man that she was calling the police. He threw the candy bar back on the counter and left. He admitted to me several times how embarrassed he was about this encounter and wants to make it right but doesn’t feel like the $300 fine he faces is deserved. The Bible says that if you steal, you should repay the victim 7 fold. Well even if he paid back 10x what he “stole,” that would still be a fine of less than $7. At least the money would go to the victim. But no, instead, he will be coerced into giving $300 to agents of the state or face a cage, which would equate to 6 days in jail in time served. 6 days in jail for stealing a candy bar that was promptly returned? How is this reasonable?
During my arraignment, I had the opportunity to tell Ed Burke, the man in the robe, that I won’t plea because I don’t understand the charges. I explained that while I had received discovery, the documents I received didn’t specify a victim. Ed said that he would enter me a “Not Guilty” plea and that I would have a hearing on the 21st of May, 2012. Wow. 5 months away for a $5 parking ticket. You think the courts are a little backed up?? I know that even if I am found guilty of a parking violation and am charged a fine, I won’t pay it and would rather do jailtime. It has already been worth the $5 or time served to see the courts parade around as if they peddle justice when really they are putting on an illusion of justice.
The courts are really a racket for shaking down peaceful people in order to support a corrupt and unwarranted system of organized aggression. It will end when peaceful people assert their rights as sovereign individuals and speak truth to power. It may involve a cage, but my conscience will be clear knowing that I am part of the solution rather than an enabler of the violent system which treats human beings as state property.
Video of this event coming online within the week.
P.S. While waiting for our paperwork, some activists did the Hokey-Pokey in the lobby of the court. I think the people who work inside that building need some joy in their lives, so I hope the merriment we displayed can show them that being peaceful leads to dancing and smiles.