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"Silent Demonstration..." try it, you'll like it!
« on: September 25, 2006, 12:48:40 PM »

Here is a way to push back against the authorities, which I would like to share with you.  Maybe you can suggest improvements.

I call it the "silent demonstration."   I've done about ten silent demos in New Hampshire, mostly alone, and from what I've experienced so far, they seem to be both effective and very easy to do.   

Here is an account from my third silent demo, undertaken last month in support of a New Hampshire property owner.


OK here is a report on my Aug 31 "silent visit" to Epping P.D. in protest of their infamous breakup of the Gatchell party last weekend.

I ended up pulling into Epping at 11:30 a.m.  After parking a ways away from the police complex itself I went over there with my sign and an improved collection of handouts.

The sign read:

Gatchell parties (thumbs up)
EPD busts (thumbs down)

I and my sign entered yet another police lobby and stood in front of yet another pane of bulletproof glass, facing yet another police receptionist who did me the honor of panicking a bit when she realized I wasn't going to speak to her.   Through the secure mail slot I handed her a note that said something like this:



I have the right to remain silent.  *You* have the right to stop busting up peaceful parties on private property, like the Gatchell party of August 26.

(then it quoted the fourth amendment)


She got on the police radio quick and called for help..."there's a man in here with a sign and he won't talk, and there's no one here!"   Note to activists:  You can't hear thru bulletproof glass much, but you can hear through the document tray.

She read my leaflet to whoever was listening.   There was also a 20 something guy in the office with her wearing a white tank top.  I assumed he was a cop, but maybe he was not.

About 10 minutes later the door opened and Chief Dodge came out and started asking me questions. I handed him the leaflet above. He was hostile at first.  At some point he said "if you are not answering my questions, I have to assume you are a threat."

He also said "keep your hands where I can see them."   It was tense, and maybe I should have looked more amused, less stern.  I was shaking with nervousness which is a little unusual; I'm sure it showed.   He said are we just going to stare at each other all day?  He asked me who I was.  I just stood there.   He asked me what I wanted.  I looked down at the sign.  He said " I can read your sign"

This time, unlike at Nashua, I tried to focus on not giving out any information except the leaflets.  I didn't nod or shake my head much.

He said I was in a place of business, and asked if I was attempting to obstruct business.   Eventually he got around to doing something which passed for a lawful order to identify myself ( he said I could be subject to arrest if I didn't answer his identity question).  That was what I needed to hear, and I smiled and nodded at him.  I reached into my left front pocket and produced a piece of paper that basically said

I am
Your humble servant
Dave Ridley
From NHfree.com

That started to relax him some.  He said ok you're the guy who called me last week.  (I had called him and via phone tag voice mails he had declined to comment, but the exchange had been cordial).   But then he got kinda angry again.  He said well I'm here now ready to talk but you don't want to talk?   He said this is a waste of time, I need you to leave ( or something like that).  So I nodded again and began backing up at my new top speed of 2 feet per second.  He followed me out, very slowly of course (heh heh), and when we got outside he said ok never mind you can stay out here.  I don't want you to hurt yourself walking backward.   I just don't want you obstructing traffic in there, it's cramped (to EPD's credit, it is a small austure lobby).

At this point two officers drove up and I nodded at them and tried to look more friendly than I had been looking at the schocked chief (I felt kinda bad about scaring him and his staff that much).  One of them asked me a question and the chief obligingly did my talking for me, he said "He's not talking!  He has the right to remain silent, and he knows it!" I grinned at that.  By now the atmosphere was somewhere between ridicule and mutual levity, the chief said..."he is my humble servant! Maybe he will tie my shoes!"  I laughed at this.

By the way I use that phrase because Churchill used to use it when communicating with people he was in conflict with.  His written declaration of war on Japan ends with " your humble servant, winston s. churchill" LOL

Of course this is not a war, and I do not consider police my enemy.  But I still like the phrase for some reason.

Anyway, then one of the officers said do you work for Gatchell?   When I didn't respond he said..."the lack of response speaks volumes."

One of the officers also said "I know why he's mad...he didn't get invited to the party!"
I laughed at this a lot and they started laughing.   The other responded, "well of course he didn't get invited, he's over 21! And he's not a female."

They asked...did you walk all the way here?

They took my picture and said they might post it to NHfree.com

One of them said can we go to your website and vote up or down as to whether we should have raided the party?
I still didn't respond , so hopefully they will drop by and figure it out for themselves...maybe i should start a poll....
Guys if you're listening....register and start one yourself!   And welcome to NHfree.com!

Somewhere in their they said again "we're wasting our time."  But they looked amused.

The chief repeated that I was free to stay if I didn't get in the way, then I stuck out my hand in their general direction and all three men shook it and I had a sense I had in some very limited degree won them over.  I then went to the road and directed my sign at traffic (as well as incoming cops) for half an hour, and somewhere in there Paul Gatchell himself drove up!   We talked for maybe 10 minutes with his car parked right there blocking part of the police exit LOL.    They finally asked him to move it, and he invited me over to the Gatchell place.   I never made it, probably I should have gone , but I felt confused about the directions and wanted to get to Durham with lots of time to spare for inter-class foot traffic.   He thanked me over and over but I told him no, thank *you* for sticking up for your rights, if everyone did that there'd be no need for me!  He was wearing a bright green shirt that said "Gatchell Event Staff" LOL

Also he indicated that the police had ordered partygoers to get in their vehicles and drive home....then started pulling them over to check for DUI !!  He says he's getting lots of support.

Later the chief drove past me on the way out, stopped his vehicle and invited me to lunch.  I didn't respond to that either except to look amused LOL.

Anyway around 1230 I went back to my vehicle and on the way a litle school bus did a u turn, the lady inside stopped in the middle of the busy road and started asking me questions too!   She asked if i was for gatchell or the police, I said "gatchell!  But I like police,  I just think they're wrong "  she said I'm for gatchell too!  I said you're blocking traffic!  But come to NHfree.com!

Then I drove to UNH at durham, where things got even more interesting!

Anyway to sum it up, I think this was a pretty useful way to spend the day, it just feels exhilarating!
The New Hampshire Revolution
Is now televised
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