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Home 5 News and Press 5 The 4:20 Protesters In Keene, NH– an injury lawyer’s viewpoint

The 4:20 Protesters In Keene, NH– an injury lawyer’s viewpoint

Well, if you live in Keene, you’ve heard about the folks assembling at Central Square every day to protest the State of NH laws on marijuana, and advocate for decriminalization or outright legalization.

They gather at 4:20 every day at Central Square in downtown Keene because the number is somehow symbolic of the drug, or they would say, substance or plant.

Some smoke pot, and some smoke legal substances making it difficult, if not impossible, for the police to make an arrest, unless the action has been blatant, which, too, has been the case.

It’s caused quite a stir in small town USA.

Everybody seems to have an opinion on the happenings, and being one who has never shied away from controversy, I offer some street-side philosophy of my own.

I’m very much in favor of any group, and by that, I mean any group of people getting together, in peaceable assembly, for a common cause.

Does the the First Amendment ring a bell?

While the 4:20 protesters have made lots of commotion, I offer them some neighborly advice: keep on assembling, but keep it cordial.

For the few who go too far, remember that antagonizing the police is a bad tactic ( as well as bad manners) and assuredly counter-productive.

Put yourself in the shoes of the policemen, who are just doing their jobs. They don’t have a lot of discretion in the enforcement of laws. They don’t make the laws, and in fact some might even agree with your position. Don’t assume an adversarial relationship.

In another vein, remember that “freedom”, a good thing, is often confused with “license”, a bad thing. Freedom is doing what we ought to do, as opposed to doing whatever on earth we want to do regardless of the harm done to others.

Peaceful assembly, on the other hand, is at the very heart of the Constitution.

Let there be protesters against the protesters.

Who cares?

This personal injury lawyer believes that one of the reasons our country is in such a mess is because of apathy– folks just going with the flow no matter how serious the issue.
I’d much rather see a passionate crew with the courage to take a stand.

Let there be debate.
Let there be disagreement.
Let the issues be aired in the town square.
Freedom-in-action.

If someone flagrantly breaks the law, they’ll do so at their own risk and at the risk of hurting the group’s cause.
If the police were to over-react and instigate (as I’m sure they’ve been instructed not to do), they’ll be held accountable. It’s not as if the protest is taking place outside public scrutiny.

As individuals must be free to protest, public safety requires that freedom not deteriorate into license.Freedom is not, as has never been, the equivalent of anarchy.

Along these lines, many people have been terrorized into making a false choice: freedom or security. The danger is that by choosing security over freedom, you’ll get neither, as a very famous person ( whose name eludes me at the moment) once admonished.

I’m a personal injury lawyer who deals with Constitutional Rights every day, and hate to see erosion of our liberty. The 4:20 protesters have the right to assemble in Central Square.

Some folks are critical of their tactics and accuse them of grandstanding. They’re entitled to that opinion. Others hate everything about the 4:20 protesters and what they are trying to do. So be it. Some are embarrassed for the city. Some don’t care. Still some others love them, while others merely tolerate them.

Interestingly, the true test of their resolve might just be the New Hampshire Winter, which is just around the corner. Assembling on nice Fall days, with temps in the 60’s, is a lot easier than doing so in a foot of ice, snow and temps below freezing. Something about the sun-shine patriot.

We’ll have to see how it all shakes out, but my sense is that these are pretty dedicated folks who’ve learned some Saul Alinski ( Rules for Radicals) methods, and don’t lack in creativity. In fairness, maybe they will have made their point by then, too.

My take is that so long as things don’t get out of hand, the 4:20 protesters should be allowed to do their thing– as you & I are lawfully entitled to our own thing, whatever that may be—– and isn’t that the point!

Charlie Donahue
Personal Injury and Accident Attorney
Keene, New Hampshire

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