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May 19. 2013 3:49PM

Not so merry: Giving Robin Hood a bad name

Some Free Staters in Keene have taken the kernel of a fun idea and turned it into something unpleasant that reflects poorly on the movement. Imagine that.

A group of Free Keene activists have been "Robin Hooding" in the city, feeding coins into people's expired parking meters so they will not get a ticket. Alas, what might have been a welcoming gesture to residents and visitors has become a tale of harassment and incivility.

The city is suing the Robin Hooders for harassing meter readers. The Robin Hooders say they do no such thing. But their own videos suggest that there is something to the city's complaint.

Video posted on the Free Keene website shows a meter reader being shouted at as she issues a ticket. She says, "I'm just doing my job," and someone responds by yelling at her, saying she is stealing. The same video shows at least four people surrounding a meter reader and following her with video cameras, most of the circling crowd within arm's reach. Robin Hood's men were supposed to be merry, not uncivil and rude.

This is not a public service; it is juvenile political theater. If the Free Keene folks wish to deny the city revenue by feeding expired parking meters, they surely would find many supporters. But leave the poor meter readers alone.


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