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'Robin Hood' Parking Meter-Feeders Sued for Harassment

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on May 15, 2013 12:35 PM

To the dismay of every urban damsel, a parking meter "Robin Hood" group is being sued for harassing parking enforcement officers.

Garret Ean and his band of merry men call themselves "Robin Hood of Keene," as in Keene, New Hampshire. They walk the streets and feed parking meters about to expire, WMUR-TV reports.

A far cry from Sherwood Forest, the city of Keene is accusing the group of harassing Meter Maid Marians and interfering with their work.

What Constitutes 'Harassment'?

Under New Hampshire law, the Robin Hood of Keene could potentially face criminal harassment charges if they:

  • Insult, taunt or challenge the parking enforcement officers in a way that is likely to provoke a violent or disorderly reaction,
  • Alarm or annoy the officers to make them fear for their safety, or
  • Alarm or annoy the officers even after the officers tell them to stop -- unless the communication is legally protected.

The city of Keene's lawsuit, however, apparently only seeks a stay-away order. Criminal charges, it seems, are not being pursued.

Stress, Anxiety Alleged

Ean's Robin Hood group records its actions on the streets and posts videos online, WMUR-TV reports. In the videos, two or three people can often be seen following the enforcement officers and recording as they look for expired meters.

The city said one enforcement officer suffered stress and anxiety from the group's antics, and even experienced heart palpitations.

But Ean insists that he's "not trying to cause anybody medical issues" and has been "nothing but positive and trying to keep a good demeanor with all of the enforcers."

In all likelihood, these modern-day Robin Hoods may soon have to keep their meter-feeding at a distance from the enforcement officers. The city is angling for at least 50 feet. Whether the group has the constitutional right to record the enforcement officers up-close is a huge, controversial First Amendment issue.

If all else fails, the meter enforcers may want to call the Knights of the AAA Table for backup.

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