Jun 15 2013

Palmer settles suit with man who was arrested for trying to record auction

Dr. Q

The Town of Palmer has agreed to pay a $5,000 settlement to Ian Freeman who was falsely arrested by police last year for trying to record a public auction. Police arrested Freeman at the behest of the town manager who took it upon himself to personally ban cameras at the public building where the auction was taking place despite not having the authority to do so (Source: The Republican).

Details here:

Ian Freeman, the New Hampshire man arrested in October for disorderly conduct for attempting to videotape a public auction, was paid $5,000 by the town of Palmer as part of a settlement, the town manager confirmed Thursday.

Town Manager Charles T. Blanchard said the town opted to pay the $5,000, which represents its insurance deductible, to end the case, and avoid the potential of future civil rights suits filed on behalf of Freeman, 32.

Last month, the remaining charge against Freeman – a municipal ordinance violation for being disorderly before the October auction – was dismissed in Palmer District Court. Back in December, a criminal disorderly conduct charge against Freeman in connection with the case was not prosecuted.

Freeman’s case was taken on by the American Civil Liberties Union. Freeman is a journalist and blogger who runs “Free Talk Live,” a radio show in Keene, N.H.

“The $5,000 settlement, in conjunction with dismissal of all charges, we believe vindicates the First Amendment rights that were at stake in this case,” said William C. Newman, director of the Western Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Blanchard said he does not regret having signs posted at the Town Building that warned visitors not to videotape, as the auction did go off without any problems. The signs have since been removed. They were placed throughout the building on the day of the auction of town-owned properties on the advice of another lawyer, Peter Brown, as there were concerns that supporters of Joseph “Jay” Noone, including Freeman, would disrupt the auction. Noone’s Main Street property in Bondsville was part of the auction

Here’s the video of Freeman getting arrested:

Disclosure: When I lived in New Hampshire, I was acquainted with Freeman. We were never close friends, but we were on good terms.