crime and punishment

New Hampshire’s Frank Staples, Skylar Bennett, Jason Gerhard arrested for placing anti-mask stickers on Manchester City Hall

Frank Staples (©Manchester Police Department)

Frank Staples (©Manchester Police Department)

Frank Staples, 41, Skylar Bennett, 38, and Jason Gerhard, 35, were identified as the men who recently placed anti-mask stickers on doors at Manchester City Hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, United States. The three men are all New Hampshire residents.

Staples is from Manchester while Bennett is a resident of Concord, Merrimack County, New Hampshire. They turned themselves into police on March 5, 2021.

Skylar Bennett (©Manchester Police Department)

Skylar Bennett (©Manchester Police Department)

Gerhard, who is from Northfield, Merrimack County, was arrested on March 7, 2021. He, Staples and Bennett were released on personal recognizance bail, Boston.com reported.

The stickers the three men placed on Manchester City Hall doors criticized the new coronavirus (COVID-19) mask mandate. They were not only inappropriate but also very difficult to remove, according to Manchester Police Department.

This is not the first time Staples, Bennett and Gerhard were arrested. In 2006, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld Staples’ earlier conviction for being a felon in possession of a weapon.

Gerhard was a resident of Brookhaven, New York, USA when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2007. On September 12, 2007, he was arrested at the Fort Leonard Wood military base in Missouri, USA and charged, along with three others, with aiding fugitive tax resisters Edward Brown and Elaine Brown.

Jason Gerhard (©Manchester Police Department)

Jason Gerhard (©Manchester Police Department)

 

A convicted felon in possession of a gun, Staples was arrested by officers from Nashua, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire and convicted of jumping bail on drug charges in 2011. He was incarcerated at the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord from 2011 to 2015.

A practitioner of Taoism, Staples refused to shave his beard to conform to the prison’s beard policy and was denied parole in 2014 for failing to do so. In 2015, he sued the state of New Hampshire for that as well as for placing him in secure housing.

Staples was placed in the state prison’s Special Housing Unit for his safety, WMUR quoted corrections officials and lawyers for the state as saying a the time. They explained that his beard could be used to hide drugs or weapons so other prisoners required to shave could make him a target of harassment and beatings.

On November 22, 2020, Staples and around 10 members of Absolute Defiance, a group he founded, demonstrated outside the house of 82nd New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu, 46. They protested the statewide mask mandate the governor enacted on November 19, 2020.

Bennett attended the protest. He told Seacoast Online that he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass.

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