Parking meter Robin Hoods?
In the quaint New England city of Keene, New Hampshire, a war is going on ... and you may be surprised what's causing all the controversy: parking meters.
What a group of young men who call themselves "Robin Hooders" are doing seems innocent enough. They go up and down the downtown shopping district and feed the parking meters before they expire. Since starting their "Robin Hooding," the city's ticket revenues are going down.
Even the local pastor finds himself getting in the middle of the controversy. "I think you guys are a couple of knuckleheads. Just because you have a right to be out here doesn't mean it's the right thing to do," Pastor David Berman told two of the Robin Hooders.
Pastor Berman says the so called do-gooders are in reality nothing but bullies, harassing parking enforcement agents by chasing them around town, videotaping and taunting them.
One of the Robin Hooders can be seen telling a traffic agent, "We're going to follow you wherever you go. You're not going to get away with it today."
The city's manager said one ticket agent got so fed up with what he says was harassment by the so-called do-gooders, he quit.
Now, the divided citizens of Keene find themselves videotaping each other.
While being taped himself, Pastor Berman told one of the Robin Hooders, "This is a camera and this is the idiot that holds the camera."
Lisa Guerrero spoke with Pastor Berman. "You actually pulled out a camera and you did some name calling of your own."
"I certainly did," said the Pastor. "I called them knuckleheads because they are knuckleheads."
"Do you regret using that kind of language?" asked Guerrero.
"I absolutely do not regret it. They are knuckleheads," he confirmed.
While these so called "knuckleheads" say they're just like Robin Hood, others call them anarchists.
Garret Ean and Graham Colson are two prominent Robin Hooders who cruise around town coming to the assistance of complete strangers by feeding parking meters before they expire.
"People appreciate it. You get a lot of positive feedback from it," said Ean.
"If you are physically running after somebody when they are trying to do their job, isn't that harassment?" asked Guerrero.
"I can see why that would make the parking enforcers uncomfortable," Ean replied. "That's not what I've been engaging in."
Some locals even accompanied female parking agents to shield them from some of the Robin Hooders.
One agent said to Garrett Ean while being taped, "I don't want to be followed." One guy got so worked up, he chased after Ean and Colson.
"If standing up for myself means smashing that camera over your head, so be it," said the guy to Garrett Ean.
"You've got citizens off the street come up, get in your face, challenge you. Was that surprising to you to encounter some of that?" Guerrero asked Ean.
"It's a sign that the activity is having an impact and I welcome that no matter how agitated that person might be," Ean responded. "As long as they are not making threats or being violent or anything like that."
Gary Lamoureux runs the city's parking enforcement. He told Guerrero, "We have no problem with videotaping. They can videotape all they wish. What we do have a problem with is getting in the way of doing their jobs or intimidating, harassing, or bullying our employees."
The city lost a legal case trying to keep six of the Robin Hooders away from their employees. It is now appealing that decision.