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3/11/2011 6:01:00 AM
Mervin Fried, of Kingman, acquitted in pitchfork trespass case
PAUL FRANKFURTER/CourtesyCounty Manager Ron Walker (left) and Mervin Fried discuss whether or not a pitchfork will be allowed in the County Administration Building.

County Manager Ron Walker (left) and Mervin Fried discuss whether or not a pitchfork will be allowed in the County Administration Building.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - A Kingman man has been acquitted of trespassing charges more than a year after he attempted to bring a pitchfork into the county administration building. Judge Pro-tempore Paul Julien ruled March 5 that Mervin Fried was not guilty of third-degree trespassing.

Fried was arrested for attempting to bring a pitchfork into the building on Feb. 16, 2010, after a protest outside of the county administration building. He was stopped at the door by County Manager Ron Walker, who asked him to leave the pitchfork outside. Fried was arrested when he refused and tried to enter the building with the pitchfork.

In court, Walker testified that he had the authority to control access to the building and submitted copies of several county rules that allegedly gave him that right. He said he allowed residents carrying guns to enter the building because the county had not adopted the ordinance that would restrict guns from the county building and did not have gun lockers to store the guns yet.

Walker said when he stopped Fried at the door and asked him to leave the pitchfork outside, Fried asked "Why?" He testified that based on that response he didn't know what Fried might do and decided that he might be a threat.

In court documents, Walker "agreed that a pitchfork is a less dangerous weapon than a handgun depending on 'what they did with it.'" Walker said he was concerned about the county's liability under the Second Amendment if he prohibited people carrying guns from entering the building.

Fried testified he ignored Walker's request because he didn't think there was any law prohibiting him from entering the building with a pitchfork.

In his ruling, Julien found that Walker did have the authority to restrict access to the building. However, Walker's "decision to allow members of the public with holstered handguns access to the building but deny access to the defendant because he had a 'holstered' pitchfork was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable," Julien wrote.

Without addressing Fried's claims of violations of his First Amendment rights to free speech, Julien found him not guilty of trespassing.

"I'm glad this is resolved," Fried said.

"Mr. Fried has had his day in court. And he was acquitted," the county's official statement on the matter read.

Fried said he plans to pursue claims against the county for violating his First and Second Amendment rights for arresting him after the protest.

He said that the Second Amendment does not specifically state that "arms" only apply to firearms. He also claims that his bail was unreasonable, that the failure to include his case on the court docket was deliberate, that Walker tried to get him fired by calling his boss, and the county deliberately edited him out of video of county Board meetings.

He also plans to follow up on a notice of claim he filed with the county last month. A notice of claim is a document that warns the county that a person feels that the county has discriminated against them in some way and will file a lawsuit unless the situation is fixed.

In his notice, Fried claimed that the county injured his First Amendment rights when it denied him his right as an elected Republican precinct committeeman to use the a meeting room in the county administration building to meet with his constituents in December based on the "political intent" of his request. Fried points to a policy the county approved in March that states that while politicking is prohibited on county grounds, elected officials are allowed to use the building to meet, update and discuss issues with their constituents. Fried claims that as a Republican precinct committeeman, he is an elected county official.

He also claims that county officials' actions have caused him "emotional distress, suppression of his First Amendment rights, and the loss of the ability to communicate effectively with his constituents in a manner equal to that of any other elected or duly appointed official." He is claiming $501,000 in damages.

What effect the case will have on the Monday arrest of Golden Valley resident Jim Kanelos for trespassing is unknown. Kanelos was released Monday afternoon.

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Related Stories:
• Mohave officials: Hats at meetings okay; we'll get back to you on guns
• Judge nixes new hearing on Kingman man's obscene T-shirt
• Fried's pitch: Just say 'No'
• Photo: Fried, Pitchfork Reunited
• Fried seeks dismissal of trespassing charge
• Fried puts county on notice
• Fried questions bond amount
• 1 arrested in protest of county's 'policy'

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011
Article comment by: Frank Harris

I just hope Fried is not the norm for this community.

Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Article comment by: Violet Kinkle

@ Donna W
Your comments about Gary Watson are confusing. If you remember correctly it was Gary Watson who publically stated that he would review and remove Ron Walker when elected. On the very first day of sitting on the Board of Supervisors then Gary Watson did a John McCain and flipped the other way and voted to extend Ron Walkers contract. In the past Gary Watson has been a sheep and followed every vote, up until January. Then he started to as the public would state start to stand up for the people! Well I hate to break it to you, but he is not standing up for the people, it is called “keeping my job” or just plain politics. I guess the real question is how long have you lived here? Because all three of the Board of Supervisors are in and have been part of the “good old boy” group. They have always been about them and in fact not about the people, just look back on everything Gary has done, he has voted yes more times than no. He voted for the “dress code” and ignored the public, now it is getting close to the re-election mode and he hopes that everyone will forget what he said and will say, and flip the other way. Thankfully there will be 5 Supervisors and frankly all 3 of the current Board of Supervisors need to and should be voted out, just remember the Ron Walker disasters that he has and will cost this County. After all Gary had the chance to fire him then and choice to listen to the “good old boys” and kept Ron Walker employed. So any law suits filed against the County because of Ron Walker could have been avoided if only Gary Watson had kept a promise to the voters to “fire Ron Walker”.

Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Article comment by: Donna W.

Many of you know my posts in the past to be progress and have labeled me a bleeding liberal, anti-american blah blah blah...

Surprise! I fully support Mervin Fried and his pitchfork. The metaphor is entirely appropriate under the circumstances.

While I do not own even one gun, it does not bother me to see people wearing them around town--although I admit that I do not see the need for the private ownership of fully automatic guns or extended clips. I do not vote for any candidate based on their gun views (for or against). There are just too many other issues I feel are more important than expanding or decreasing our rights with regard to the second amendment. I realize several of you are going to accuse me of being some kind of anti-american terrorist for not supporting an expansion of gun rights, but frankly I don't think anyone who needs to carry a gun to feel safe is entirely sane, either. Live and let live--as long as you are not hurting others in the process.

I think that having 5 supervisors should improve the situation, but I also agree with BOBO the Clown that allowing one party to control our government is not productive, and certainly adds to the corruption. It wouldn't matter which party has the monopoly--power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I am astonished that Walker called Fried's employer! I have been following this story from the beginning and this is the first I have heard of it. I certainly hope that Fried's civil suit is the first step in firing Walker, and I would like to see him pay higher fines than his employment contract can absorb (who else gets a full year of salary when they have their employment terminated? and such an inflated salary, too!)

I would also like to point out that only 2 of our current BOS members were complicit in this incident. Gary Watson has actually tried to limit the damage on several occasions, but the other two keep outvoting him. Since I live in Watson's district, I have not signed any recall petitions, but I would love to see the other two recalled or at least defeated at the ballot box next year. One of you mad republicans who hates me ought to run against Johnson and Sockwell and whip them in the primary. Put your money where your mouth is! I will happily donate to any republican candidate who challenges either of them.

Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011
Article comment by: NO NAME, NO WAY!

to Mr. Wood:

What do you think the 30 some odd PRIVATE ARMY of Mr. Walker was doing with their weapons, badges and ATTITUDE towards the citizenship? Its called physical and emotional INTIMIDATION plain and simple.

Thanks to Mr, Fried for clarifying his encounter with the officer. I have only seen honesty displayed by Mr. Freid throughout this issue!

Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011
Article comment by: Diogenes' Lantern

I have also had dealings with Deputy Gunnoe myself. He is a model of what an MCSO deputy should be. Intelligent, compassionate, considerate, civil -- yet big enough to uphold the law with force if necessary. We need more LEOs like him.

Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011
Article comment by: V Stokes

Thanks for being a standup guy in your post about the officer who was tasked with your arrest. Truth is always the best defense, probably why you were found innocent!

A shame someone tried to stir the pot by posting untruths.

Posted: Sunday, March 13, 2011
Article comment by: Mervin Fried

I must comment on Officer Gunnoe's conduct during my arrest and at trial. There have been comments on his actions towards me during my arrest at the Mohave County Administration Building February 16th, 2010.
Officer Gunnoe did not injure or harm me in any way. I did not resist arrest and he did not use unnecessary force on me to take me into custody. He treated me fairly and without contempt.
During my trial, Officer Gunnoe was truthful and even commented that I was "cordial" to him when I was arrested.
I have the utmost respect for Officer Gunnoe, who was unfortunately put into a diffucult situation by his superiors.
Thank you Officer Gunnoe for your service to our community and your professionalism extended to me during my subsequent arrest and incarceration.
If an officer ever has a doubt about what his superiors are ordering them to do, an officer of the law is entitled, and obligated, to question, or refrain from enforcing, any unlawful or illegal action that may be ordered by their superiors.
Mervin Fried.

Posted: Sunday, March 13, 2011
Article comment by: marge g

If you think you have it bad being a citizen of Mohave County, try being an employee. Or a wrongfully "terminated" one.

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: The Real Common Sense

@ Patriot WES
You're a funny guy! "Liberals against Mervin?" Really? I'm a hard core left wing Liberal that not only supports Mervin bu am always armed as well. All of my "liberal" friends are upset about Mervin's treatment. You seem to forget it is the RIGHT WING LOONS, i.e Lil Ronnie, Johnson, Sockwell, Watson, et al that came down on Mervin! Jeeze, when you guys post something stupid, you REALLY POST SOMETHING STUPID.

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: Johnny Appleseed

Dear Mr. Walker:

You will never be able to keep secrets from the public because too many county employee despise you. Your conduct Friday morning was appalling. Snapping at everyone and showing your anger. Then you were so upset Mr. Fried proved you wrong you had to storm out of your office and leave your duties. Your are becoming the incredible shrinking man. You are so small in the minds and the hearts of Mohave County I am sure next we will have to be bare foot in the County Building because you will fear some one might not notice you and step on your tiny little being. Perhaps it was the crow breakfast you had that morning that upset you. All I can say is get used to it because your going to be eating a lot more crow in 2011. Get used to it.

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: Patriot WES

The crazy left is coming out against Mervin. It is they that do not understand how this country was founded and what the founders had to scarifice so we can have our freedoms. All they can do is say they don't understand why a pitchfork or a gun. To all of the idiots that don't understand this, it is how our country was founded! Guns, guts and pitchforks! Get over yourselves and study some history and be proud to be an American! Thank you Mervin for standing up to this tryanical Mohave Co. government!

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: David Gaither

The Point? wrote:

"I must be missing something,..."

I would say so...yes indeed! You see, pitchforks are designed to "pitch" bull dung out of the barn. A fitting protest symbol to take to a BOS meeting...wouldn't you say?

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: The Point?

Okay, so now I guess it's established than anyone who wants to can carry a pitchfork into public buildings in Arizona. I must be missing something, but why would someone actually need a pitchfork in a public building? Are all those bales of hay getting to be a problem? Maybe the point is just to prove that in Arizona no weapons or potential weapons of any kind can be prohibited anywhere at all. I suppose next our valiant state legislature will be passing a law allowing college students to carry pitchforks into classrooms. (They're already trying to do that with guns, so why not pitchforks? And don't forget machetes, hatchets, etc.)

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: Neither Side

@ gabby b. Lol so apparently the video of the arrest was doctored up since at no time does it show fried being thrown against the wall. Were you not aware of this fact or iare all of your thoughts fictional. Frieds testimony even contradicts that statement.

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: The Real Common Sense

@ Grant Wood

So Fried was being foolish in carrying a pitchfork as a symbolic form of protest? So what is your take on our ever lovable and ever goofy John McCain telling everyone they need to take up their pitchforks in protest just a few months ago?
And BTW I'm one of those "show offs" who goes about always armed - the problem, you usually cannot see the weapon because I carry concealed.
And finally Little Ronnie Walker was not "prompted" to do anything about a security system - that is just more of his flexing his tiny muscles and his short guy syndrome. Mr Fried did not cost the county a penny - Lil Ronnie Walker did.

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: SO Childish

I agree with Grant wood,what a waist of time, I wouldn't want a pitchfork in the supper market,where my children can see it.truly way more than your share of county funds. just because a few people hate the bos, try helping the homeless .Grow up!!

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: Colonel Hitchcock

The BOS has already rewarded Ron Walker for his arrogance by extending his contract.

[Deleted] - people wear guns in public, because they have a right to do so in a free society. Be careful about parroting lies or your nose will start to grow.

NoFreedon in Mohave - I don't think the people that voted for the [BOS] were incompetent voters. They were just misled by the lies and promises of the [BOS]. Now that they have exposed their true agenda and extreme disdain of the citizens of this county , I believe everyone will exercise common sense in the next election.

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Article comment by: BOBO CLOWN

I will admit that I am a DEMOCRAT & i will fight for my rights. as i believe all the problems are because it is a Republican CONTROLLED state & county. Dems have been fighting for there rights since before Jesus was a boy, repubs are not only cowards but traitors as well.

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011
Article comment by: Tsol. Patriot

Calling the bad guy's boss happens more than you know. They did it to me also. I just can't prove it to you. The reason I know they did is because my Former Boss had info that only the BOS and Sheriffs Office had. No other way for him to know. BOS & MCSO sleep together in this town. Deny it and accept the fact that your a puppet of the county. Do yourselves a favor and start packing! BOS Sheehan,&Walker, Your families must be proud...

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011
Article comment by: Grow Up

Seems to me the parties in this head game all need to grow up.

You can't tell me that this Fried guy didn't know he would be stopped from trying to enter a county building with a pitchfork. He did it intentionally to provoke a confrontation.

Walker is dumb enough to take the bait and the BOS allows him to continue creating leagal problems that will cost us tens of thousands of dollars.

What is it with these so called free speach [people] that they can't show some decorum and act like ladies and gentlemen in a public meeting?

It must be the jets spraying chemicals over Golden Valley.

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011
Article comment by: Elaine Edwards

Not only did Walker call Mr. Frieds employer but is my understanding he asked some pretty "crazy" questions of Mr. Frieds employer...about him. This man tried to get Mr. Fried fired by calling his place of employment!!! Mr. Walker needs to be Fired, he is a HIGH risk to the county and will continue to cost tax payers high $$$ for his lack of communication, knowledge and personal and professional skills.

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011
Article comment by: Jamie McKinney

I had a class with Mr. Marvin Fried about the Az government, and he is quite knowledgeable of our rights and laws. It is not suprising to me that Marvin was cleard of the charges. The citizens in our county do have the power to have there voices heard, if they have the knowledge to back it up, and Marvin did. To Marvin good job backing up your beliefs and taking the appropriate actions to have your self aquited! If Marvin can do it we all can, (and I don't mean carry a pitchfork into the courthouse buidings) that is stand up for our rights, if we educate ourselves on our laws we the people can make a change. Good job Marvin!

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011
Article comment by: concerned citizen

By editing the tape it just shows how dishonest and ronnie and the bos are...they broke the law by editing that public record...they should be brought up on charges...

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011
Article comment by: mindless pap

Walker called Mervin Fried's boss. Please. Give me a break. What black hole did Walker escape from? Yeah, I know. It was the one [deleted].

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011
Article comment by: Grant Wood

I'm no fan of Mr. Walker, but I'm embarrassed by Mr. Fried. People wear guns in public for the same reason he attempted to take a pitchfork in a county building - to intimidate. It's that complete lack of common sense that continues to make Arizonans the laughingstocks of the country. I don't recall that the 2nd amendment guarantees the right to exhibit extreme stupidity in a public setting.

Ask yourself, Mr. Fried - just because you can, should you? Are you that threatened by public servants that you feel compelled to carry around a farm or garden implement? Your stunt was self-absorbed craziness.

And don't forget the cost to the rest of us taxpayers. After this incident Mr. Walker was prompted to install a pricey new security system. Thanks, Mr. Fried, for your display of individual rights and subsequent lawsuit. You've single handedly siphoned off way more than your share of county funds. Leave some for the rest of us, okay?

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