A 23-year-old Republican staffer was arrested in Londonderry, New Hampshire on Saturday and charged with disorderly conduct after he repeatedly harassed two Democratic officials who were marching in the town’s “old home day” parade.
According to WMUR Channel 9, Michael Zona, operations coordinator for New Hampshire’s Republican State Committee, was taken into custody after officers repeatedly asked him to stop following U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) along the parade route.
Detective Christopher Olsen told WMUR that Zona was repeatedly asked by the governor’s security detail and by local police to stop shadowing the two elected officials and in particular to stop flapping his arms, yelling and making chicken sounds.
Reuters reported that Zona was carrying a sign that read “Jeanne Shaheen too chicken for town halls,” a dig at the senator for declining Republican Senate hopeful Scott Brown’s invitation to a town hall-style debate. Brown is the former Massachusetts senator who was unseated by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Zona told WMUR that the arrest is a violation of his right to free speech.
“I believe Senator Jeanne Shaheen should be holding town halls and I have a First Amendment right to express that point of view,” he said. “I wasn’t bothering anyone. I wasn’t disturbing anyone. In fact, I got a good deal of encouragement from people along the parade route.”
Olsen said that Zona was arrested and taken to Londonderry jail, where he was charged with a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.
A Democratic spokesperson told Reuters that state Republicans should stop wasting “taxpayer resources and local law enforcement time with these juvenile antics when we should be discussing critical issues that matter.”
Zona is due in court on Sep. 8.
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