Last night I attended my first cop block event here in New Hampshire, where libertarians from across the country are migrating to help one of the most liberty-minded states become more so. Several times a year, police in Manchester set up a DUI (and every other driving offense, such as broken headlight) checkpoint. For years, libertarian activists, many of whom moved from other states like me, have been holding signs and shouting warnings at the entry to the checkpoint when drivers have one last chance to turn away. They have also filed lawsuits to make the police give clearer notice about these checkpoints, which have not been proven to reduce any harmful behavior, and mostly seem to net police departments fine money.
The checkpoint started around 10pm and a friend and I arrived shortly after that to find a crowd of two dozen people holding signs saying things like COPS AHEAD and CHECKPOINT ON BRIDGE. The checkpoint is held at the end of a bridge connecting the two sides of Manchester, making it difficult to avoid. Activists have made it so difficult for the police that they closed the sidewalk on the bridge and forbade anyone from walking across. Of course, the other direction of the bridge (which is completely separated) was fully open. Some of my housemates went down there to yell obscenities and inform the highwaymen that their actions were illegal. Constitutionally, it probably is, and its very strange how much violation of rights are allowed when automobiles are involved. Nevertheless, courts have ruled the checkpoints legal, albeit with many restrictions and requirements to give notice. Drivers must be given the option to turn away.
A few guys yelled out to a cop that there was a checkpoint ahead and he should be careful, to which he laughed. Another cop wished us a good night and to stay safe. Some others seemed unnerved by the invectives, or quietly intimidated by it, just wanting to go home. The vast majority of drivers who had planned to go on the bridge quickly switched lanes to turn away. A few did continue on, some appearing militantly so. Others appeared to be confused and I wondered if they mistakenly thought going on the bridge was how to avoid it. Most drivers seemed grateful to be alerted and honked support or gave a thumbs up. One guy argued that the cops were just doing their job. A taxi driver said he supported what we were doing. In fact, almost everyone did. A group of frat boy types walked by saying “You guys are the bros!” So why do the police get away with this? There have been bills and suits to end this, but there is no shortage of crying widows and mothers to tell us how we must do anything possible to prevent drunk driving (perhaps legalizing less inhibiting substances?)
Several activists from Keene joined us, and one was arrested for disorderly conduct and bailed out. He will likely have many people show up at the trial, making it uncomfortable to press the charge. That is one of the many great things here in New Hampshire. If you like the idea of living in a house full of libertarians, and having regular opportunities to counter police action with dozens of allies, New Hampshire is the place to be. There is no need to be alone anymore. You have friends here ready to support you. If you decide to pay a visit and want more info, send me a message on the page or leave a comment. Also, the Porcupine Freedom Festival is coming up the last week in June. Jewish Libertarians will be there in some capacity!