A second Nashua resident, another woman, was arrested at Nashua City Hall for “criminal trespass” while seeking public information. That’s two arrests in less than a month at the Nashua City Hall, so we’re starting to see a pattern.
Related: Nashua Police Arrest Whistleblower
Nashua City Hall is a public building paid for by residents through their property taxes.
On Monday, March 15, 2021, a Nashua resident submitted a Right to Know request to obtain copies of the machine tapes and other information from the November 3, 2020 elections.
The Nashua resident called the City Clerk to make sure her Right to Know request was received and that the Clerk understood that she only needed the machine tapes by Friday, not the other information. The Clerk’s assistant confirmed that they received the Right to Know request and that the Nashua resident would receive all the information on Friday. The Nashua resident set up an appointment on Friday, March 19th at 1:00 pm to come and pick up the records.
City Hall is closed to the public except by appointment. The Nashua resident confirmed her appointment on Friday, March 19th, making it abundantly clear that she was coming on that date at that time.
City Hall doors were open. A City employee approached the Nashua resident as she entered the lobby at the back entrance to City Hall, right outside the Clerk’s Office. The Nashua resident explained that she was there to pick up copies of public records and had an appointment. The City employee addressed her by name, knowing who she was based upon her appointment date and time.
The City Clerk approached the Nashua resident in the lobby as the Clerk’s Office was closed. The Clerk explained that “no information was available.” The Nashua resident was now told it would be emailed to her later in the day because, as the City Clerk explained, the City Attorney needed to review the public documents before providing them to her. It kind of makes you wonder what was going on when the Nashua resident had an appointment and confirmed that she was coming to pick up the records earlier that same day.
The Nashua resident explained that she did not want to leave without her Right to Know request being fulfilled and stated she would be willing to wait until the material was ready. The City Clerk became immediately frustrated with her persistence with her Right to Know request, and the Clerk stated that she was calling the police. This left the Nashua resident in complete shock.
The Nashua resident reiterated that she only needed copies of the machine tapes, not the other information. She explained that many other towns had produced their machine tapes right away. She wasn’t asking for a pile of information. Why would the police need to be involved?
The Nashua resident stepped outside and met the police in the back parking lot. She and the officers had a lengthy discussion about her concerns over the election results, including the election discrepancies that surfaced in Windham. They discussed the Right to Know Law, and their discussion concluded with the officers stating that the Nashua resident needed to make another appointment.
The Nashua resident decided to go back in and make another appointment. Nashua police were leaving the parking lot as she walked inside. They saw where she was going and left anyway. There are cameras outside the back door of City Hall, which will verify that the police were leaving as she went back went inside.
However, this time the Clerk refused to make another appointment.
As the Nashua resident was leaving City Hall around 2:30 pm, the City Attorney Steve Bolton called. The Nashua resident learned that the legal department did NOT need to review the public documents before giving them to her but that the documents “wouldn’t be ready until Monday.”
The Nashua resident was outside preparing to leave after the City Attorney’s call when the police showed up for the second time (having, again obviously, been called by someone inside City Hall). This time, though, they arrested the Nashua resident for criminal trespass (for, apparently, being in a public parking lot as she walked over to their police vehicles).
NH RSA 635:2 Criminal Trespass. –
I. “A person is guilty of criminal trespass if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place.”
A warning is generally given to insure that the person “knows” he is not allowed to “enter or remain in a place.” No warnings or requests to leave were given in this case.
The police gave the Nashua resident no warning, nor did they suggest that she needed to leave City Hall.
Neither did the City Attorney nor the City Clerk asked the Nashua resident to leave City Hall.
The police explained that the City Clerk reported that the Nashua resident was “banging on doors” inside City Hall, which is false. She did not need to bang on doors because she had a cell phone and could communicate easily.
The Nashua resident asked the police to repeat the Clerk’s accusation, as she was stunned and recorded the police’s response. She was then grabbed from behind without warning, cuffed tightly enough to leave bruises, arrested, taken to the Nashua police station, and placed in a holding cell.
The police asked the Nashua resident to unlock her iPhone for them so they could search it. She refused, so they confiscated her phone. To date, the phone has not been returned to the Nashua resident. The police are plainly concerned that she recorded her interactions with them, including her arrest, and perhaps suspect they have a “problem.”
She was released on personal recognizance and picked up from the station by 4:45 pm.
In conclusion, both Nashua activists were arrested making inconvenient inquiries, one about incompetence and possible corruption in the assessor’s office and the latest about possible corruption of the election process. The City’s response has been to use the police as intimidation tools, something with which the police themselves should be very uncomfortable. History has shown us that when this starts happening, it marks the beginning of an overt police state. It’s a slippery slope, at the bottom of which all of us will end up living in perpetual fear.