By William R. Toler
Adam Mueller, affectionately known as Ademo Freeman, is charged with three counts of felony wiretapping for recording conversations with local government officials regarding an incident at a public school. Each count carries a maximum penalty of seven years.
The incident in question occured last year at West High School when student Frank Harrington took his sister’s makeup bag as a joke, according to the Union Leader. When confronted by as school official and school resource officer Darren Murphy, he refused to give it to them and said he would give it back. He was then told he would be suspended and “used an obscenity to question why.”
Murphy, an officer with the Manchester (NH) Police Department, snatched Harrington by the arm, swung him around and slammed him into the lunchroom table. The altercation was recorded by fellow student Michael Proulx, who was told by school officials to delete the footage.
Harrington was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. His sister, Heidi, was also charged with disorderly conduct after she “threw a fit in the office” when informed of her brother’s arrest.
Later that day, Harrington reached out to Cop Block, an organization (founded by Freeman) that advocates accountabilty of police officers and uses the tag line: Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.
While Harrington was suspended, Murphy was back on the job the next day. Harrington’s parents filed a complaint with the department regarding the force that was used on their son. “No matter what, nobody’s child should be abused like that in school,” his father said.
Seeking accountability for the violence used in the arrest, Freeman called the Manchester Police Department and the school to ask questions about the incident. He recorded the conversations for a video update on CopBlock.org.
Two months later, Freeman posted another video announcing he had found out “via the Union Leader, that I’ve been indicted on three felony wiretapping charges…” He detailed the history of the case and said that CopBlock.org had been banned from the school’s computers and that Cop Block apparel and literature was also prohibited.
The state’s wiretapping law prohibits recording conversations without the consent of all parties. However, the law goes to great lengths to exclude government agents from the possiblity of being charged.
“I told them I was seeking comment,” Freeman said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime, a blog ran by Carlos Miller, in December. “They knew it was on the record.”
“And what part of her job is private?,” he asked, referring to the school principal. “What part of her job don’t we get to know about?”
On July 27, Freeman was in court for a final pre-trial hearing. The judge admitted to understanding and respecting his position. “If you understand my position, I don’t understand why we’re gonna waste your time and everyone else’s time going through this procedure,” Freeman told the judge.
The same day, I was in Winston-Salem interviewing Freeman’s Cop Block cohort Pete Voluntaryist Eyre and Never Take A Plea founder Clyde Voluntaryist. During the interview, Eyre recieved a phone call from Freeman about the hearing. Despite the desire to have the issue in front of a jury, Freeman said he was considering a plea deal.
Most liberty activists advocate for jury trials to bog down the system, and to bring truth to the jurors and observers in the courtroom. However, one runs the risk of being found guilty, even of a victimless crime, and spending several years locked in a cage.
While he awaits his trial Aug. 13, Freeman has set up a fund to help cover legal expenses. So far, he has represented himself but is considering hiring a lawyer. “I think a lawyer would be beneficial to ensure I have fair pre-trial hearings and ‘proper’ (in their eyes) procedure during trial, he said in a message at CopBlock.org. “Considering this will be an expectation of privacy trial – and that public officials have none – it will be more difficult that my Greenfield trial.* Yet, a win here could do wonders for activists in the “Shire” attempting to change coercive government actions.”
[*In July, 2011, Freeman and Eyre were found not guilty of felony wiretapping charges in Greenfield, Mass.]
We’ll have an update here when the case goes to trial.
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