Keene Free Staters meeting place

Members of the Free Keene group will continue their social meetings at the Bitcoin Embassy on Route 101 in defiance of state orders to limit public gatherings.

One of the leaders of the libertarian Free Keene group, Ian Freeman, said he won’t comply with New Hampshire’s order to limit public gatherings, calling the order “outrageous.”

Freeman said Gov. Chris Sununu’s order is a violation of the right to assemble. The ban on gatherings of more than 50 people in New Hampshire is part of the state’s emergency actions taken to combat the spread of COVID-19

“It’s also a violation of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Freeman wrote on the Free Keene website. “In order for many humans to be happy, they need to be around other people. We are a social animal.”

Freeman announced that the group’s public activities, including social meet-ups, will continue in spite of the order. The Sunday social meeting, usually held at a Keene restaurant, will now be held at the Bitcoin Embassy on Route 101, he said.

Freeman called the global pandemic which has killed thousands a “Coronavirus scare,” and said too many libertarians are allowing the government to take control.

“Apparently if an authoritarian puts on a lab coat then many libertarians will fall under their spell,” he wrote.

Freeman blamed the movement and the media for scaring people.

“Government gangsters say it and the media propagates it,” he wrote.

Freeman said the social meetings will continue, with people bringing their own food and drinks. He is also offering a special prize to anyone who becomes the 51st attendee.

Freeman was sentenced to 100 hours of community service stemming from a 2014 case over his driver’s license application. He changed his name from Ian Bernard in 2014 to Ian Freeman but filled out his driver’s license application under the Bernard name. Freeman said Monday the case resulted from a “bureaucratic paperwork issue.”

He founded, along with other members of the Free Keene movement, the Shire Free Church. Free Keene is part of the loosely affiliated libertarian activists who started moving to New Hampshire in an effort to change the state’s political make-up.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020