Acquitted in one criminal case and facing another, Weare School Board member Rochelle Kelley says her failure to “comply with tyranny” and her belief in the Constitution have made her a lightning rod for criticism, including death threats.
Kelley was cleared of disorderly conduct charges on Aug. 11 in connection with an April 2020 incident in which police asked people to leave a Concord playground closed as a COVID-19 pandemic precaution.
Judge Edwin Kelly, who presided over her trial, said that Kelley behaved reasonably, didn’t refuse to leave and did not violate the law.
Police said she and two other people declined police requests to leave.
In a video that captured the event, someone called police “Concord Nazis,” one coughs in the officers’ direction and one compares the officers’ actions to those of Nazis rounding up Jews during the Holocaust.
Kelley, 33, said she never called the officers Nazis.
During the confrontation, she said, “I don’t understand why the Constitution is an opinion. In all seriousness, don’t you feel really sad you’re a police officer, a man of the law, and you’re kicking kids off (the playground)?”
Dan Hynes, her defense attorney, said she did obey the officers’ orders to leave and that she may have been confused with someone who acted differently.
In an interview Monday, Kelley said she had expected that she would be acquitted.
“I haven’t been worried about it the entire time,” she said.
The case led to a big community reaction.
“I received endless amounts of death threats, DCYF (Division for Children, Youth and Families) was called on me, all kinds of things, but that’s expected when you’re on the right side of history. And it didn’t stop just because I was found not guilty. It’s still going crazy.
“They’re just super liberal and don’t believe in freedom. They believe masks are for the greater good, if you don’t do it you’re killing grandma, they don’t believe in real science, they believe in mainstream media. Anything the news tells them, they believe.”
Meanwhile, she faces charges of obstruction of government administration and resisting arrest related to a July 25 incident with Weare police. Officers had pulled over her husband, Samuel Kelley, for driving a van without a current inspection sticker or registration. The van had been pulled over four days earlier for the same violation.
“The operator was informed his vehicle would be towed from the scene,” Weare Police Chief Christopher Moore said in an email about the July 25 incident. “During the inventory search of the vehicle, Mrs. Rochelle Kelley, who had been a passenger in the vehicle, engaged in conduct which resulted in her being placed under arrest.”
A short video posted on social media shows Kelley yelling at officers, leveling a homophobic slur and screaming at them to loosen her handcuffs.
Kelley said she’s not sure when this case will go to court.
“If it’s a typical New Hampshire way, it will probably take a year-and-a-half,” she said. “They don’t believe in speedy trials.”
She said the length of time it took for her 2020 Concord playground case to come to trial actually worked in her favor.
“By the time it was in front of a judge, the majority of the world realized that being forced into all these restrictions is nothing more than complying to tyranny,” she said.
She also thinks the case arising from the incident with Weare police will ultimately be decided in her favor. The interaction with police lasted three-and-a-half hours and the video clip is just about 10 seconds, she said.
Kelley said she and her husband objected to a search of the vehicle.
“We declined an inventory, which shouldn’t be legal to begin with,” she said. “He did it anyway and arrested me because I said ‘no.’”
Kelley said she could have complied, but contends that would go against search and seizure protections under the Fourth Amendment.
On Aug. 17, the Weare School Board censured her for remarks made to police.
During the meeting, School Board Chairwoman Wendy Curry said this was the only way to show “that homophobic statements to police officers is not an acceptable school board thing.”