Matthew Townsend: Facing a Felony Charge For a Facebook Post
This was received anonymously, via the CopBlock.org submission page:
On February 2nd, 2015, Idaho’s most prominent Cop Blocker Matthew Townsend was engaged in a one-man protest on a sidewalk in Meridian, Idaho when he was accosted by Meridian Police employee Richard Broadbank who accused him of “blocking traffic.” When his attempts to get Matthew to agree with him and submit or incriminate himself failed, Broadbank resorted to saying “well, I saw you…” [blocking traffic.]
At this point, Matthew told officer Broadbank “then charge me.” and pushed the crosswalk button, and proceeded to cross. Broadbank was silent for a moment, and when Matthew was halfway across he began to shout that he’s not done with him yet. Matthew was then arrested for “resisting and obstructing,” simply for exercising his rights.
Then on the evening of March 20, Matthew was arrested again and charged with a felony for a Facebook post, in which he explained that he intended to protest and shed light on the Meridian police if this asinine charge wasn’t dropped.
Matthew is being retaliated against by the Meridian police and city for being an activist, and the local mainstream media simply isn’t going to cover anything that offers the local police in anything other than a glowing or magisterial light. Please share this article by journalist William N. Grigg on Matthew’s abduction in order to help spread Matthew’s side of the story, and protect activism from unjust police abuse and silencing.
Will Grigg‘s article on Matthew’s plight is the most complete and informative. That is what I’m looking to spread far and wide. If Matthew isn’t safe to protest and exercise his rights, none of us in Idaho are.
Included below is an excerpt from that article at William N. Grigg’s blog, Pro Libertate:
A Felon for a Facebook Post: The Abduction of Matthew Townsend
Matthew Townsend was made an offender for using a sidewalk without a police officer’s permission, and then accused of a felony for publishing a Facebook post about the incident.
“Apparently, holding a protest sign, or condemning government abuse on Facebook, is enough to make somebody a terrorist now,” Matthew wearily observes.
A small, wiry man with a luxuriant beard and a contemplative demeanor, Matthew is gainfully employed in Meridian, Idaho as a cook. That is to say, he feeds people, rather than feeding upon them. His abductor, Officer Richard Brockbank of the Meridian Police Department, makes neither butter, nor shoes, nor poetry; instead, he makes “offenders” out of people who have done no injury to anybody.
On the evening of February 2, Matthew – a part-time liberty activist – was conducting a one-man protest outside the local branch office of the oxymoronically named Liberty Tax Service. That company often pays people to publicize its services by standing on a sidewalk dressed as the Statue of Liberty.
A devout believer in the principle of truth in advertising, Matthew attired himself in a Grim Reaper costume holding a protest sign. One side bore the inscription “Taxes [do not equal] liberty”; the other pointed out that “Taxes fund terrorism.”
“An officer pulled up and told me that I had to get out of the road, and that I couldn’t be blocking traffic,” Matthew recalled during an interview in his home. “He tried to get me to agree with him that I was blocking traffic. And I didn’t. He asked me for my name; I gave him my name. He asked me for my ID; I told him I didn’t have it on me.”
The officer, later identified as Richard Brockbank, continued to “build the stop” – that is to say, probing for an excuse to arrest someone who had not committed an actual crime.
“He asked me if I had been drinking and … kept trying to get me to agree with him that I was blocking traffic,” Matthew continued. “He said, `Well, I saw you.’ I said, `Then charge me.’ And he was silent – just stops, silent. I turned around and hit the button [on the crosswalk signal light]. It said `Go,’ so I started crossing. Half-way across the intersection he starts yelling that he’s not done with me. I stopped on the next corner. He walked over there, and other officers pulled up, and I got arrested.”
At least two other officers responded to Brockbank’s urgent call for assistance. As he conversed with his supervisor, another officer took the opportunity to lecture Matthew about his civic responsibilities.
“He told me that I need to read the Constitution,” Matthew told me. Either out of politeness or a prudent desire not to antagonize his captor, Matthew refrained from pointing out that he has probably forgotten more about that document than the officer has ever learned…
…His kidnappers demanded a $300 ransom – or, as they would insist on calling it, “bond” – and designated March 19 as the date for a court hearing to validate the abduction.
On the eve of that pretrial hearing, Matthew posted a notice on his Facebook page describing Brockbank’s actions as “terroristic in nature and in other ways unconstitutional and criminal.”
“The cop refused to charge me for said `crime’ that he was accusing me of and so I walked away,” he explained, “and was soon after kidnapped and hauled away by several costumed State goons for my disrespect of officer Brockbank’s harassment towards me.”
Given that the charge against him was entirely devoid of merit, Matthew continued, he would seek its dismissal. If this didn’t happen, he advised, “I will begin a non-violent and legal shame campaign that will be remembered. HOA [Home Owners Association]`upsets,’ protests in the aggressors neighborhoods (I know where you all live- this is notification of knowledge and future protests, not a threat), mailers, door hangers, online ads, local and (hopefully) national media- I’ve done it before and I can do it again as well as other peaceful, but… annoying avenues will commence.”
Nothing in that post constituted a threat or an incitement to violence. It was a pure exercise of what we are told is the constitutionally protected right to petition for a redress of grievances – in this case, armed abduction under color of “law.” When Matthew showed up for his hearing a few hours later, however, his court-appointed attorney informed him that the Ada County Sheriff’s Office was prepared to arrest him at the courthouse.
Matthew’s Facebook post was being treated as a “terroristic threat” – and a warrant was sworn out by Meridian Police Officer Shannon Taylor accusing him of “attempted intimidation of a states [sic] witness.”
To read the post on Pro Libertate in it’s entirety, click here…