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  • David Ridley, 45, takes part in a protest outside Nashua Police Department headquarters Sunday. Ridley, of Bedford, claims he was groped by an officer after being arrested at a Democratic fundraiser featuring Vice President Joe Biden last week.



    Staff photo by Michael Brindley
  • David Ridley, 45, takes part in a protest outside Nashua Police Department headquarters Sunday. Ridley, of Bedford, claims he was groped by an officer during a search after he was arrested for ciminal trespassing at last week's Democratic fundraiser featuring Vice President Joe Biden.



    Staff photo by Michael Brindley
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bedford man to Nashua police: ‘Don’t touch my junk’

NASHUA – A Bedford man and Free State Project champion claims he was “arrested and molested” at a Democratic fundraiser last week featuring Vice President Joe Biden.

David Ridley, 45, was arrested at the event Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel and charged with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor. But Ridley alleges officers sexually assaulted him during a search. Sunday afternoon, he and about a dozen other members of the Free State Project gathered outside the Nashua Police Department headquarters to protest his treatment.

“If they’re doing it to me, they’re doing it to everybody,” Ridley said, holding a yellow Gadsen flag, which carries the slogan “Don’t Tread On Me.”

Friday, Sgt. Kerry Baxter with the Nashua Police Department said officers were told there was a person in the parking lot who was a “concern” to the Secret Service. As a result, Ridley was asked to leave by a hotel employee, but refused, Baxter said. Police said Ridley was then spoken to by the hotel’s general manager and a Secret Service agent, and continued to refuse to leave.

Finally, after police asked him directly to leave and he did not, he was arrested, Baxter said.

Baxter didn’t have information as to what Ridley was accused of doing that was causing a concern in the first place. Ridley was charged with criminal trespassing. He refused bail that night and was arraigned in Nashua District Court the next morning.

At Sunday’s protest, Ridley said he was interviewing various elected officials outside the hotel for his Web site, ridleyreport.com. While he disputes he was disturbing anyone, he said hotel officials had every right to ask him to leave their property if they felt was interfering with guests. However, he disputes that he refused to leave once asked.

Ridley posted a video of his encounter with police on his site. In the video, Ridley was asked to leave the property by Nashua police officers. He slowly walked away and was still on the property several minutes after the request was made. Although he was walking away from the hotel, police officers arrested him because he wasn’t leaving in a timely manner. Ridley began singing “We Shall Overcome,” as officers searched him. Ridley claims this was when the officer conducting the search groped his groin.

“Do you favor sexual assault of your inmates?” Ridley asked the officer in the video.

Sunday, Ridley said he was leaving, but admits that, “in protest, I left slowly.”

“I got the impression that the NPD instigated that,” Ridley said, theorizing as to why he asked to leave. “I was targeted I suspect because the NPD doesn’t like the content of my YouTube channel.”

Ridley moved to New Hampshire in 2004 and is an active member of the Free State Project, which it promotes a libertarian philosophy of limited government. Although he takes issue with his treatment at the Biden event, the city has generally been more respectful of people’s rights than what he typically experiences elsewhere.

“It’s better in Nashua than the rest of the country,” Ridley said. “That’s the scary part.”

Ridley is next due in court July 11 to face his criminal trespassing charge. He is considering a counter-suit.

Staff writer Joesph G. Cote contributed to this story. Michael Brindley can be reached at 594-6426 or mbrindley@nashuatelegraph.com.