Libertarian Talk Radio Activist Jailed For 100 Days For Having A Couch In His Yard

Judge uses host as an example of what happens when you defy the state

Steve Watson


Monday, Nov 17, 2008

A Libertarian radio host and political activist has been sentenced to 100 days in prison for refusing to remove a couch from his back yard.

Furthermore, the trial was held behind closed doors after the judge ordered proceedings moved to a private room away from spectators. The reason? The defendant took a full six seconds to sit down.

Ian “Freeman” Bernard, presenter of the nationally syndicated libertarian show Free Talk Live, was taken into custody and received a thirty day jail term for contempt of court last Friday.

When details of the closed hearing later emerged, Freeman had received another two thirty day sentences and a further ten day term for refusing to pay a fine and remove the couch in his yard.

In the video below, note how Freeman begins to sit down along with everyone else in the room, but as the judge calls his name he pauses and seems confused about whether he is supposed to stand to attention or sit down.

The original charge came about earlier this year when a housing inspector visited Freeman’s property in Keene, New Hampshire, following up a complaint, and cited him for having a couch in the yard.

Freeman managed to capture the incident on camera:

Freeman questioned the charge and agreed to remove the offending piece of furniture as long as he could speak with the person that made the complaint. This request was refused and the matter went to trial.

The Lew Rockwell Blog notes that the trial was used as a showpiece to send a message to activists like Freeman and his supporters.

There is a backstory to all of this. The local despots have been keeping a close eye on the activists, no doubt reading the web forums and keeping informed of their plans for peaceful noncompliance and civil disobedience. Thus, this entire court appearance was planned and executed swiftly.

Local activists did recently make some headway into getting the court to allow the panning of video cameras in the court. As a listener of the show, I believe that another reason why Bernard was moved to an alternate courtroom was to prevent video of this from getting out.
Also note that in the video, when the courtroom is ordered to all rise, the bailiff takes a long look at everyone else to make sure they are complying with the order. This is because everyone in attendance was threatened with arrest beforehand should they defy the judge as a form of protest.

The Free Keene blog, which bills itself as an outlet for “liberty minded activists”, has more on this.

“It was oppressive,” said Dale Everett, 40, of Keene. “They had a notice posted obviously targeting us, liberty activists, saying that anyone who didn’t stand for the judge would be ’subject to sanction.’ So I left. I wasn’t prepared to get arrested today.”
Another resident commented that the courtroom at Freeman’s trial was crammed with police “to try and outnumber the liberty activists.”

Freeman has clearly been used as an example of the treatment you should expect should you stand up for your own personal liberty and attempt to publicly expose any possible violations made upon it by state authorities.

Freeman’s show runs on 43 states across the country and will continue to air while he serves jail time.

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