In this article, we will be discussing the events that occurred during a 1st Amendment audit conducted by the YouTube channel “Press NH Now” at the Townsend Town Hall in Massachusetts. The video, titled “OUT OF CONTROL*TOWN HALL EMPLOYEE’S DEMAND I IDENTIFY TOWNSEND, MA 1ST AMENDMENT AUDIT (PART 1)” sheds light on an encounter between the auditor and town hall employees who demanded the auditor to identify himself. We will analyze the key points of the video and provide a detailed recount of the events.
- Introduction to the 1st Amendment Audit
The video starts with an introduction from the YouTuber, Press NH Now, explaining that they will be conducting a 1st Amendment audit to test whether the town hall respects their right to film in public. The date of the audit is February 17, 2022. The YouTuber encourages viewers to support the channel and check out their other videos.
- Interaction with the Tax Collector
Upon entering the town hall, the auditor encounters the tax collector and asks if he can record. The tax collector seems surprised by the question and asks the auditor to identify himself. The auditor asserts his right to record a public meeting and declines to identify himself. The tax collector seems dismissive and suggests that the auditor has work to do, implying that recording is unnecessary.
- Requesting Identification from a Town Employee
Continuing the audit, the auditor approaches another town hall employee who is on her cell phone. He asks for her name and position so he can request the public record of the photo she took. The employee provides her name and claims the photo was personal. The auditor insists that she created a public record while in the course of her duties. The employee agrees to provide her email for the auditor to send the request.
- Discussion about “Authorized Personnel Only” Signs
During the audit, the auditor overhears a conversation between town hall employees about the “Authorized Personnel Only” signs. He approaches them and asks why the signs are there. The employees explain that the signs are meant to restrict access to authorized personnel only. The auditor questions their reasoning, suggesting that this information should have been communicated earlier to prevent confusion.
- Interaction with a Select Board Member
The auditor encounters a select board member and asks if she is a member of the select board. She confirms and questions why the auditor is recording in the building. The auditor declines to disclose the reason and asks for her name. The board member refuses to provide her full name, causing tension between them.
- Filming a Zoom Meeting Announcement
The video concludes with the auditor filming an announcement about an upcoming Zoom meeting. He questions whether the meeting is open to the public and if recording is allowed. The town hall employee affirms that the public is allowed to attend meetings and the auditor is permitted to record.
The 1st Amendment audit at the Townsend Town Hall in Massachusetts reveals the tension between the auditors exercising their rights to record and the town hall employees demanding identification. The video provides a detailed account of the encounters and raises questions about transparency and adherence to public record laws. The events highlight the importance of understanding and asserting one’s rights in interactions with public officials.