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Resident puts property rights above all

  • Antrim resident John Redman hasn't lived in town long, but has already made his political opinions known at town meetings.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Antrim resident John Redman hasn't lived in town long, but has already made his political opinions known at town meetings.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • John Redman admires his collection of bicycles he has rebuilt or acquired during his retirement. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Antrim resident John Redman hasn't lived in town long, but has already made his political opinions known at town meetings.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

ANTRIM — Every day, John Redman walks outside of his Antrim home on the corner of North Main Street and Elm Street, and sets up hand-made signs that urge passers-by to vote ‘No’ on Warrant Article 3 at Town Meeting on March 14. The article calls for an appropriation of $1.675 million for a new police station. Or, as Redman’s two signs call it, a new “cop shop.”

Redman moved into his Antrim home in December, and he soon became a vocal presence who has infused himself around the town’s upcoming vote to build a new police station. Redman has emerged as one of the biggest critics of the plan for a new building.

He said in an interview at his home on Feb. 26, that he believes the Antrim Police Department doesn’t answer enough calls to validate building a new police station. According to one of Redman’s signs, he claims the cost per call to police will rise from $655 to $3,367 when factoring in the cost of the new station.

Both Antrim Police Chief Scott Lester and Town Administrator Galen Stearns refute the numbers Redman is pushing.

Numbers aside, it has been Redman’s unconventional belief system that has helped him stand out in the community.

Training to be a Quaker minister, Redman believes that property rights are given to everyone by God and specified in the Constitution, and anything done against those rights is interfering with God’s work. And for someone so involved in rights and the political process, Redman eschews his own right to vote.

“I want to live my live my life in a Godly way; to live a life of charity,” Redman said. “If you don’t fight city hall, you’re giving in to the devil.”

From Redman’s perspective, property rights include everything from owning land to owning a vehicle. And Redman owns several cars that at the moment are inoperable. But a few weeks ago, while driving in Bennington, Redman was arrested and charged with operating under an invalid registration.

This wasn’t a new scenario to Redman or to Bennington police. About a year and a half ago, while Redman was living in the area, Bennington Police Chief Steve Campbell pulled him over when he noticed the vehicle did not have proper license plates.

There were a few charges when Campbell pulled him over — the same invalid license and registration were cited, as well as a charge of disobeying an officer. Campbell said in a phone interview Saturday that Redman did not give a concrete answer to police when asked for his name, age and date of birth. That aside, Campbell said that Redman was as polite as someone who just got arrested could be.

“He was very polite to me when I arrested him, and the officer [who arrested Redman] a few weeks ago said the same thing,” Campbell said. “We just try to be nice and cooperative. He said he wasn’t going to call me Chief. He said, ‘I’ll call you Steve, and you can call me John.’”

Although Redman is a repeat motor vehicle violation offender, Campbell said the worst that will happen is he has to pay a fine if convicted, since his last offense was more than 12 months ago.

The prospect of Redman getting yet another citation for the same offense does not deter Redman from doing what he believes is right, though.

“When I travel in my vehicle, I am breaking a non-existent law,” he said. “If it breaks property rights, which are guaranteed in the Constitution, then it is a law. I do what I want by right, and I harm nobody. I set an example whether people choose to follow me or not.”

Campbell said that the charges would only turn into a misdemeanor if his violations were less than 12 months apart, and then it could potentially involve some jail time and heftier fines. But that doesn’t faze Redman either.

Redman claims he has been arrested 17 times in his life, all for civil disobedience. Most of them, he says, have come in Columbus, Ga., while protesting with School of the Americas Watch – an advocacy group that gathers once a year near Fort Benning, a U.S. military base, and protests human rights abuses.

His court date for his recent offense is set for March 14, and Redman “intends to take an interest in the court proceedings.”

Redman says he has been retired for 23 years, but that he worked in a number of different industries, including multiple government offices. His roles with the Department of the Army, Navy, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and video store owner have taken him all over the country, he said.

He says his time with the government helped shape his government-opposing views, and he believes patents and copyrights are counter productive to society.

Now Redman spends most of his time working on restoring bicycles and training to become a Quaker minister.

Campbell referred to Redman as a “free stater,” or a member of a large group of people that moved to a low-population state to push their libertarian ideas. Redman does not consider himself a free stater, however.

“Free staters move here with the intent to vote to free the state,” Redman said. “I am a free person. The way they behave, they are not free. Freedom is a state of mind, but you can’t be free if you consider yourself part of a state. God is my state.”

To be a free stater, one would have to vote to push candidates and ideas. Redman does not vote.

“I’ve only voted once in my life, and it was for Ross Perot. And I regret it now,” he said.

Which means Redman will not vote “No’ on Warrant Article 3 when it is presented next week. He said that he will do everything he can to make sure people vote it down, but will not be present himself at the polls.

“Don’t wait for someone to follow you. Preach by your actions,” Redman said. “Be a majority of one, as Thoreau said.”

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