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City Sues Good Samaritans Who Feed Strangers’ Parking Meters

May 20, 2013 by  

City Sues Good Samaritans Who Feed Strangers’ Parking Meters
PHOTOS.COM

A group of six self-described “Robin Hooders,” who estimate they’ve saved about 4,000 New Hampshire motorists from parking tickets by feeding their expired meters, now faces a lawsuit in the small city where they’ve been active since December.

The small band of residents, local members of a larger New Hampshire libertarian movement called the Free State Project, play a cat-and-mouse game with meter maids in Keene, N.H., looking for parked cars in front of meters that have expired. Staying about 20 feet ahead of the city’s small squad of ticket-writing meter maids, they re-up expired meters and leave behind calling cards that show an image of Robin Hood on one side and a quote — “We saved you from the king’s tariff! — Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Please consider paying it forward.” — on the other.

In the suit, the city’s three meter maids complain the Robin Hooders have “regularly, repeatedly, and intentionally taunted, interfered with, harassed, and intimidated” them by “following, surrounding, touching or nearly touching, and otherwise taunting and harassing.” The suit asks the court to order the group to keep a 50-foot distance from the meter maids — at least one of whom has complained of getting heart palpitations from the stress — at all times.

The group’s members have told various media outlets the city is having to stretch the truth in order to make claims like that, noting that none of them has been charged with harassment.

“The Robin Hooders have always been courteous in my experience,” defendant Ian Freeman told NBC News. “The city is upset because they are losing revenue and are coming up with anything they can to try to stop it.”

“I don’t follow them home or try to find them off duty,” defendant James Cleaveland, who knows the meter maids by name, told Reuters. “They always use the excuse ‘I’m just doing my job.’ I always say ‘I’m just doing my activity too.’

“It’s my philosophy. I could go talk to the city council at every meeting but to me, actions speak louder than words.”

Those actions are a lot more popular with residents in the “Live Free or Die” State than with the city. The group’s “Free Keene” Facebook page has nearly 5,000 friends, and drivers quoted in local and national reports favor what the Robin Hooders are doing — and the spirit in which they’re going about it.

Bailing people out of $5 parking tickets isn’t the toughest fight the Free State Project’s Keene chapter has waged. The group has also supported relaxing drug laws by publicly smoking marijuana in a downtown protest. In 2009, the group protested attacks on the 2nd Amendment by having a half-naked woman walk through the city armed with a holstered handgun.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • http://n/a vivian shannon

    Bullcrap,the american people are helping other americans. In a state that claims, “Live Free Or Die” what is wrong with NH.govt.? What is wrong with helping folks?

  • James Gray, Jr.

    I think it’s great what your group is doing in your State. I need you in Florida where I have been hauled into court more than 60 times without a single conviction to date. I am scheduled to go back on May 22, and again on June 18 in an attempt to have me declared mentally incompetent trying to make it appear that it is my fault they can’t get a conviction rather than admit that I have committed no crime, and they don’t have a victim or a witness against me. They know if they dismiss after all of this time or try me and the Jury acquits me of the prosecutorial malfeasance that I would have all I need for a malicious prosecution suit against them. This has been going on since April 10, 2009, more than four years. They have and continue to violate all of my constitutional rights, especially my rights to a speedy trial which is limited to a 175 days and this has been going on over 1500. I need a group like yours to help me expose this den of criminal in Polk County, Florida.

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  • Don miller

    Right on robin hooders I think it’s great what your doing and to the brother who said actions speak louder than words right on brother wish we the people could get that keep on keeping on

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