LACONIA — A self-proclaimed anarchist associated with the Free State Project spent Friday night in the Belknap County House of Corrections after refusing to cooperate with a police officer who stopped her after she allegedly ran a red light.
According to Laconia police logs, Amanda "Billyrock" Johnson, 27, of 105 Windsong Ave. in Manchester is charged with one count of disobeying an officer, one count of resisting arrest, one count of transporting alcoholic beverages (for allegedly having an open container containing alcohol in her car), driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and possession of controlled drugs.
Johnson allegedly refused to tell police her name or cooperate with the police.
For the next 12 hours, Internet sites associated with the Free State project and other libertarian causes buzzed with tales of Johnson's "kidnapping" by the Laconia Police and subsequent "caging" at the Belknap County House of Corrections — where she was taken after she allegedly refused the services of a bail commissioner. Readers of the sites were urged to call the county jail in protest.
Johnson, whose Internet name is "Amanda Billyrock", is referred to online as an "epic figure" in the libertarian world. She calls herself an anarchist and has said she came to New Hampshire to join the Free State movement and liked it here. She is from Utah.
At one point, she moved to New Zealand because police there don't carry guns and stayed for a period before returning to the United States. One of her webcasts said she moved to New Hampshire after attending a Free State event earlier this year.
A video filmed by one of the other people in the car during her encounter with police was posted to YouTube but has been removed — apparently by Johnson. A statement on her Facebook page yesterday said she was preparing to issue another statement within 24 hours.
Johnson's lawyer, Seth Hipple of Concord, said yesterday that Johnson had a valid Utah driver's license and a New Hampshire registration for her car and gave them to the police officer who stopped her. Hipple said his client's birth date is on both documents.
He said she was not intoxicated and the drugs in her possession were prescribed to her by her physician. As to the open container charge, he said Johnson didn't have an open container and was unaware if one of her two passengers did.
He also said he was the one who advised her to take down the video that had been posted on her Facebook page.
He said she complied with the police to the degree the Constitution requires and did not talk to them, which he said is her right.
When contacted yesterday, Police Chief Chris Adams initially didn't know who Amanda Johnson was. After being told, he said his officers treated her the same way they treat anyone who allegedly commits similar violations and misdemeanors.
Beyond that, he said he didn't have anything to add.
Belknap County Superintendent Daniel Ward said Johnson was incarcerated for a little over 12 hours. He said she initially refused bail but when her lawyer arrived Saturday afternoon she agreed to cooperate.
Video posted recently to the Free Keene website ("A New Hampshire Liberty Activism Destination") show an anchorman sitting at a desk in front of a map of the world appearing to have a phone conversation with a Laconia police supervisor about Johnson's arrest. The supervisor didn't answer any of the man's questions. It is not known from where the man was broadcasting.
A second website hosted by Copblock aired a second conversation a caller had with a person who answered the phone at the Belknap County jail.
Ward said the jail employees got about six phone calls from individuals another two from newspapers and another two from television stations — most of them from the Midwest.
"No big deal," he said.