Officials in a small New Hampshire city claim that a band of merry men, feeding coins in strangers' parking meters, are harassing traffic officers. WHDH's Ryan Schulteis reports.
A group of self-styled Robin Hoods who scamper around the streets of a New Hampshire city and feed expired parking meters for strangers has been hit with a harassment lawsuit.
The city of Keene says its three parking inspectors have been taunted, insulted and followed by the group — to the point that one of them says he has suffered heart palpitations and is thinking about quitting his job.
In its lawsuit, the city is asking a court to order the group not to come within 50 feet of the parking inspectors.
The suit names six defendants, most of them bloggers for Free Keene, which describes itself on its Facebook page as “your connection to the liberty activism movement in New Hampshire.”
One of the six, Ian Freeman, told NBC News that “The Robin Hooders have always been courteous in my experience” and pointed out that the city has not charged them criminally with harassment.
“The city is upset because they are losing revenue and are coming up with anything they can to try to stop it,” he said.
He also noted that the city’s job description for parking inspectors, included as part of the lawsuit, requires that inspectors “endure verbal and mental abuse when confronted with the hostile views and opinions of the public.”
The city attorney in Keene did not immediately respond to a call for comment from NBC News.
After they feed a meter, members of the group place a card on the windshield of the car that says: “We saved you from the king’s tariffs. Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Please consider paying it forward.” The card features the Disney depiction of Robin Hood as a fox.
The group has fans in Keene, a city of about 23,000 near the Massachusetts state line.
“My husband had it a few weeks ago,” Pam Stetzer told NBC affiliate WHDH in Boston. “He was just running a little late in one of the stores … and when he came back he had the little card there saying they had put a little extra money in for him. It definitely saved him.”
Another member of the group, James Cleaveland, told The New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper that the group has stopped the inspectors from writing about 4,000 tickets.
The three parking inspectors, in affidavits filed with the lawsuits, say that the taunts from the group have ranged from accusations of racism to basic trash-talk.
One of the inspectors, Linda Desruisseaux, said that one of the six liked to taunt her by saying, “Linda, guess what you’re not going to do today — write tickets.”