In New Hampshire, Keene residents have formed a group they call Robin Hood of Keene, which roams the town feeding parking meters to save other residents from parking tickets. The group also carries out protests in close vicinity to parking enforcement officers and posts its activities on Youtube, sometimes including video footage of those enforcement officers. According to thenewspaper.com, city officials have taken the matter to the state’s supreme court, where they were not supported in the least.
“Does the behavior here violate any municipal ordinance or state law, in your view?” Justice James P. Bassett asked.
City leaders want the protesters to stay 50 feet or more away from parking officers, but the court responded negatively, saying protests of all kinds are usually carried out near city employees – namely police officers – and that restricting those protests is not legal.
“The peace of mind of PEOs, parking enforcement officers, is not a compelling interest,” Jon Meyer, lawyer for the Robin Hooders, said. “It does not justify restrictions on First Amendment rights.”
No doubt, some other approach can be taken to protect the feelings of the “meter maids,” as the article calls them, but, someday, the members of the Robin Hooders will be compelled to give up their cause without the passing of any new laws: they won’t have time to follow meter maids around town dropping coins into meters where they aren’t parked when they run out of money and are forced to find a paid occupation.
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