St. Johnsbury man led away in handcuffs for not wearing mask at school basketball game

By Guy Page

A St. Johnsbury man was handcuffed by Newport City police and cited for trespass last week after he refused to put on a mask at a high school basketball game, Police Chief Travis Bingham said Monday.

Dennis Steele being led away in handcuffs from high school basketball game

Dennis Steele, father of one of the St. Johnsbury Academy players and a business owner, entered without a mask and sat down in the stands in the North Country Union High School gym, Bingham said.

The misdemeanor crime of trespass is punishable by up to three months in prison or a $500 fine. Steele referred all comments to his lawyer, Robert Kaplan. This is the first citation for mask-related trespass issued by the Newport Police, Bingham said.

North Country Athletic Director Phil Joyal has a policy that anyone attending games must wear a mask. If they won’t, they’re refused entry. Forfeiting the game also is an option for non-compliance, the chief said.

“Somehow this gentleman got into the facility and sat down next to a lady who also wasn’t wearing a mask,” Bingham said. “Mr. Joyal went over and tried to have a conversation.” The man said “I’m not wearing a mask and I’m not going anywhere,” the police chief said.

At that point Joyal stopped the game and announced Steele had four minutes to leave. Both teams were sent to the locker room. Police arrived on the scene and arrested Steele for trespass.

“He wasn’t arrested for any criminal law violation [about masking], because there isn’t one,” Bingham said. Steele didn’t resist and was taken off in handcuffs to the police station, where he was cited and released. A photo on social media shows Steele being led away by police.

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Image courtesy of Public domain

45 thoughts on “St. Johnsbury man led away in handcuffs for not wearing mask at school basketball game

  1. Does not surprise me that the Newport Police fall in line like a bunch of sheep. Shame on them for trample on people’s rights and the Constitution. We need more Lions not sheople. I hope this parent gets a good lawyer and sues the pants off of all of them. So glad I moved away from that commy State.

  2. I’m very disappointed with our police forces these days who are all too anxious and willing to arrest people who offer no threat to them or the public. They have been relieved of the responsibility of enforcing laws against real crimes by a justice system that allows real criminals to roam at will among us by virtue of no bond policies and DAs who intentionally refuse to prosecute real criminals as long as they fit into a politically correct category. So now, the police have a low risk target base consisting of mask and vaccine scofflaws that they get to flex their SWAT style muscles at while not having to deal with real criminals. Our police forces should be ashamed of themselves for kowtowing to the progressives and their tyrannical policies. Our police are becoming more like Hitler’s Gestapo every day. Conservatives have always been supporters of the military and the police but that support is rapidly dissolving as we witness them becoming tools of what can reasonably be argued is a Socialist (the C word is there too) slide to the dark side.

    • Re:”I’m very disappointed with our police forces these days who are all too anxious and willing to arrest people who offer no threat to them or the public..”

      Again, check this out.
      The Milgram Experiment: How far will people go to obey an order? It will suit everyone to understand this infamous study and its conclusions about human nature and authoritarian control.

  3. Perhaps I am old fashion, but I believe in following rules and if you don’t like them working to change them or being willing to accept the consequences wirhout complaint. Each of us making our own rules and deciding which rules we want to obey and which we do not, leads to anarchy.

    For me thie worst example of this kind of thing in Vermont is the deliberate breaking of the law by undocumented farm workier and the farmers who employ them. While I strongly believer a guest worker program should be instituted for dairy farms, until such a program is established the laws governing immigration, like all our laws and rules, should be obeyed. Those who don’t should indeed be led away in cuffs.

    • “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” Thomas Jefferson

      Everyone has a line drawn in the sand. Some people’s are masks. This is not a law and should not require law enforcement. These are not “mandate enforcement” officers. Taking one thing (mask mandate) and turning it into another (trespassing) is not ‘just’. Public buildings are public. Trespassing would qualify if he did something – vandalized, let’s say – and then given an order to stay off the premises; that would be trespassing…

      What will your line in the sand be? This takeover and loss of rights will not stop until we all stand in solidarity.

      • Hey John… are you planning on being chipped so you can shop (Vaccine Passport 2.0)? Or you fully self-sufficient so you don’t have to be wired for the satellite that can surveille your every movement, purchase, conversation online or on your phone, take your temperature, tell you when you need to sleep and wake up, and of course when its okay to have sex, play or go out and have fun with friends.
        Cuz your ‘obey the rules’ does not take into account tyrants.
        Unless you enjoy tyranny…
        Just asking.
        You down with that?

        Not your enemy just because I am sovereign and answer only to myself and God.

      • I suspect it has something to do with the internet, as well as the media’s relentless fanning of the flames of division, that we all have become so hair-triggered.

        Being required to wear a mask at an indoor event during a pandemic that is spread by airborne droplets somehow does not seem like tyranny but an attempt to help control the spread of a very contagious disease that is currently straining our health system.

        The coldest and darkest time of year is when we traditionally think of others besides oursleves. Yes, we all have lines in the sand. We need to be thoughtful about when and where we draw them.

        • The world will not fall apart if some people don’t wear masks. If your mask protects you, good for you. If it doesn’t, then have they been feeding you a bunch of BS?

          • Jim,
            I appreciate reading and respect your perspective on things, it always gets me thinking.

            My view is that the world will not fall apart if, when in a place where masks are required, we respect the decision made by those in charge of that place and where a mask.

            In South Strafford, my friend Melvin Coburn who has been running Coburns General Store for the last 44 years , has been dealing with some health problems over the last couple of years. Masks are required when you go in the store and it would be the height of disrespect to try not to have to wear one.
            One can cherish and enjoy one’s own freedoms while sitll allowing consideration of others.

    • However it is kind of fun to see someone turn himself into a kind of instant Christmas folk hero. There is too much banality in the world.

  4. So an athletic director can make policies to get citizens carted off by the police…….Interesting……I thought it was up to legislative bodies to make such rules and laws.

    Meanwhile, real criminals terrorize this country everyday and the police can do nothing. If they do, left wing prosectors fail to press charges, or if they do press charges judges let the thugs out of jail with no bail so they can continue to commit more crimes.

    Is this what the Founding Fathers envisioned when setting up this country?

    • The AD didn’t make a policy, The Vermont Principals Association did, following guidance issued by state government. I’m convinced of the idiocy of masks, as worn in public, however- Mr. Steele chose his path and is responsible for the results. Perhaps he is looking to emulate Rosa Parks, the woman who in 1951 refused to move to the back of the bus and was arrested. The NAACP supported and defended her, I see no such help from them for Mr. Steele. Admirable as Mr. Steele’s actions were, even in Newport, Vermont isn’t what it used to be. If one hundred parents did the same?

      • Bingo!

        If all the VTGOP refused the mask mandate????

        That would be leadership.

        Anyone, anyone who has ever worked construction, dusty sweeping, cutting concrete, etc. knows full well these masks do not work. They help, but the end of the day your nose is FULL of dust. You blow it out at home when you take a shower.

        And….if you pass gas, which goes through 3 masks to get in your nose, underwear, pants and mask….you still smell it, it lingers longer in your mask. And guess what they find covid in the sewers!

        Smell a fart, and you may have passed on covid. 🙂

        It’s no science, it’s political science, power, control and fear.

      • Frank, you must have information not cited in the article, which states:

        “North Country Athletic Director Phil Joyal has a policy that anyone attending games must wear a mask.”

        • The Vermont Principals Association has adopted VT Agency of Ed. guidance and it is published on their website. VPA is the sanctioning body for high school athletics in Vermont.
          The point is- that it’s best to have facts straight when making accusations, such as the decision to eject Mr. Steele was the AD’s alone- or Mr. Morisseau’s below- He and I crawled from under the same rock, decades apart- so his nepotism claim is greatly inaccurate.
          My strategy would have been different, attempting to organize as many parents as possible to go either maskless or use “cloth facial coverings” made from insect screen. Complies with the VPA requirement and illustrates one’s opinion on efficacy of masks. While I congratulate Mr. Steele for his stand, it will take many to alter the narrative of Covid fear here in Vermont.

  5. This is absolutely atrocious! I cannot believe what I’m reading! I hope he and his lawyer pursue this to the fullest extent possible. It makes me sick!

  6. Welcome to Stasi State of Chinarmont.
    When they arrest people for shopping in grocery stores without masks, Houston has a problem.
    I’m guessing this is going to be a rising phenomenon in Chinarmont now.
    Reichsmarshall Scott and his faustian pact with the ‘Jaws’ guy (literally the Italian translation of his name) and HIS pact with Satan, are now running Vermont from their poopy thrones in the fraidycats litterbox we used to proudly call our state capitol.
    And Chinarmontes sleep on…
    Coercian, threats of violence, gov’t mandating health measures, one size fits all, join the crowd or be arrested, do not speak the truth or get arrested, do not comply and get arrested…
    We arrived folks.
    A State of Chinarmont we can all be SO proud of. We’ve come SO far:
    Fascist State of Chinarmont.

  7. Considering the fact that masks cannot stop the virus, I’d say the people running that school should not be allowed near children.

  8. Human nature tells us what we need to know about our current state of affairs. Consider these topics when you get the chance.

    First: Self Determination Theory. People who are intrinsically motivated (i.e., acting autonomously of their own accord) tend to accept personal responsibility for their outcomes. People who are extrinsically motivated (i.e., doing what they are told to do by a so-called higher authority) tend to blame others for their outcomes – especially when those outcomes are less than desired.

    Second: The Milgram Experiment: How far will people go to obey an order? It will suit everyone to understand this infamous study and its conclusions about human nature and authoritarian control.

    If this ‘maskless man’, and other similar stories tell us anything, it’s to not be confrontational if it can be avoided.

    This is not to say that conservatives shouldn’t defend themselves – and it may come to that. But those who disagree with the typical conservative mindset aren’t stupid. In fact, if anything, these progressive Marxists are expert at manipulating the system to get their way.

    Being confrontational, at first blush, is precisely what progressive authoritarians want conservatives to do. One need only analyze the so-called ‘CRT’, the ‘January 6th Insurrection’ claims, and the current ‘anti-vaxxer’ campaigns. These are strategies designed to make conservatives react – and to justify authoritarian control over what they do by declaring them a danger to society.

    I’m not pretending to know what the best course of action is for every instance that is confrontational. But this story of the ‘maskless man’ is yet another case in point. My advice to anyone concerned with the current authoritarian tyranny besetting our society – make a stand if you must. But this authoritarian mindset will collapse on itself if conservatives don’t add fuel to its fire. Get your kids out of the public school system. If it’s a choice between being vaccinated and losing your ability to provide for yourself, weigh the risks and rewards, do what works best for you. Wear masks in public when it makes others comfortable – and stay away from them if you can’t. Get your house in order. Be as self-sufficient as you can be.

    It’s now a game of attrition. Be smart. And we’ll see you on the other side.

    • When you don’t stand up to bullies they are emboldened. It is not confrontational, it is standing up, he was polite and compliant, he knew the course and was willing to accept the penalty.

      No if those in office, with and R next to their name refused to comply with the vaccine passport? What are they going to do? They can arrest them all.

      How’s that gonna look?
      Think they’ll do it?

      That is not being confrontational, that is the subtle difference of standing for sanity.

      We know there are two people in our state willing to stand up. That is how change is made, suddenly 2 more, suddenly 12 more.

      People take notice. You are putting light on the corruption and Marxism. The VTGOP could build a party with this man and Vicky strong. I bet if you whittled it down to those two, 112,704 people + would send more money, you’d have more like minded people.

      You’d have vision, purpose, a spine. People across the country would support. You would be RINO free.

        • I didn’t characterize your position, I supported this man and others to do similar, but to clarify.

          What authoritarian regime collapsed on itself and how long did it take?. Open to examples. I think history shows they get away with things for a long time, more so in countries that have not experimented in republicanism as a form of government.

          • Neil, they will go bankrupt as everyone stops producing. Cut off their money – they will wither and die. We just have to be sure to outlast them. It may take a while. But it always ends that way. East Germany, Cuba, Venezuela. They are dysfunctional by nature. San Francisco, LA, Portland, Chicago, Baltimore… it’s not sustainable. Is Burlington next?

            And yes, I know the retort. What happens when they knock on your door to take your house, or they try to burn your village? Well, we’ve had a taste of that already. And if it gets to that point here, we’ll have an entirely different conversation – offline.

            But you miss my point. The Progressive Left not only uses civil disobedience to support and further its contention that conservatives are a danger to society, they instigate the divisiveness and then blame conservatives. That’s what happened last January 6th. They infiltrated and exaggerated what was a legitimate demonstration and turned it into an ‘insurrection’. I could see it coming a mile away. But what disappoints me is that President Trump and his minions didn’t see it coming. They should have known better. And if they did see it coming, I’m disappointed that they couldn’t figure out how to turn the tables on the Left. It’s called optics.

            Again, my advice, don’t participate. ‘Who is John Gault?’ Stay away from them. Get your kids out of the public schools. That’s where the progressive Left has the most leverage. Be cool, at least until the 2022 midterms. Then we’ll see what happens.

            “Don’t try to understand them. And don’t try to make them understand you. For they are a breed apart and make no sense.” Last of the Mohicans

          • Dano’s citation about Depp has been circulated now for quite some time. And, quite frankly, it fits the profile of the manipulation I’m warning about. We are being manipulated because we can’t, or we refuse, to understand that all behavior may not be honorable, just because we are honorable. Bottom line – we’re being manipulated.

            For example, I tend to like almost everyone I meet. And I inherently then believe they like me. That’s my nature. But I learned to be skeptical when I was in Ohio as a college student during the Kent State rioting in 1970 – riots, by the way, that were far more destructive than the January 6th ‘insurrection’. I watched Leftist college professors (of all people) and out-of-town instigators incite otherwise naive and innocent students to violence. And I figured out then that once that breakdown occurred, the only rational thing to do was get out of town. Logic could not prevail over emotion.

            So then – what is the alternative? To Neil and others who are so rightfully outraged by what’s going on, I say that using the same tactics as the Left only begets the same behavior. It’s the ‘fighting monsters’ syndrome. Don’t become the monster.

            The alternative is ‘the alternative’. Obtuse as this may seem, the best thing for this man refusing to wear a mask to do wasn’t to make a scene at the basketball game. The best thing for him to do – the best thing for all of us to do – is create and alternative. Get your kids out of the corrupt public school system and have a basketball game under the terms you will accept. If you honestly believe your idea of social norms to be correct and honorable, allow the free market of ideas to prove your case.

            I caution everyone currently advocating to ‘take back your schools’. As a former school board director who has been trying to do so for decades, I can assure you all that it can’t be done. The ‘public school monopoly’ is designed to create conflict. It is anything but a free market of ideas – no matter who rules the roost.

            Get your kids out of the public school system! Choose an independent school or homeschool your children. There are myriad opportunities to combine independent and homeschool curricula available (and I can elaborate more on that later). Choose the program (and the basketball game) you believe best meets the needs of your children. It beats going to jail for a proverbial ‘red badge of courage’.

            Yes – School Choice may just change the world.

        • One historical name comes to mind, Ethan Allan. His statue was on the steps of the state house in Mount stupid if they haven’t removed it yet. The shame of what’s taking place in this state would give Ethan the shingles.

          In WW2, a certain ethnic peoples wanted to go along to get along. That worked out poorly for them. There has been no push back of progressive leadership for at least 30 years. Our state has been infested with Social justice warriors and carpetbagger politicians. Conservatives are neighborly and have allowed the take over to happen to where we are today.

          We don’t have to be aggressive but every time a man stands up to injustice people read about it in disgust. Oh the horror, a father went to a basketball game to watch his son or daughter without a useless mask on his face. OMG!

          I don’t think I can wait another 30 years before progressivism collapses on it’s own. We have to help it along, just like this man did. He did not break any laws. The athetotic director does not own the school, the people do. They pay for it. And now that we know that vaxed people can spread the illness it’s time to allow for herd immunity. What good is life if you can’t live it. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

          • For Jay, I read your comments and agree with most. The part that I question is, most people in Vermont can not financially do what you suggest. The cities you named have been under siege for too long. Imagine living there and not being able to leave or not having the money to afford home schooling or private schools. I realize you are passionate about your convictions and solutions but too many people are trapped in their lives and don’t know or have the resources to change. Some don’t have the brains or will power. I wish we all could act in our own best interest ut we are all victims of our own circumstances for good or bad.

          • I understand. And I agree. The die has been cast. And the longer the authoritarian system prevails, the more innocent people will suffer. I can’t save the world. But I can give anyone who cares to listen the benefit of what I’ve learned over the years – take it or leave it. If you and I can create an alternative for ourselves, others who can, may join us. And as our ranks grow in the free market of ideas, the power of the authoritarian Left will decline.

            There is a reason the airlines tell us:
            “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

            My mask is on. If I can help, let me know.

    • It took 12 years for the nazi dictatorship to fall. They hardly did anything during that time, right.

  9. And the VTGOP sayeth?

    Yeah I thought so, see Virginia there is no such thing as a VTGOP, there is a party in name only, they are really uniparty right.

    The VTGOP will stand by and watch while our country is taken over.
    The VTGOP will tell you, “Let’s go Brandon!” Is about shopping and dining in Brandon VT!
    The VTGOP has no spine.

    Their are members worthy of leadership. Vickie Strong comes to mind.

    We need people in the correct positions, there are others that know.

    Santa, can we have a reformation in the VTGOP for Christmas?

    • This isn’t for the Vermont GOP. It’s for us as individuals to get together and choose our battles carefully. Perhaps a politician or two might join, but don’t count on it- this is beyond them in an election cycle. Masking is “settled science” for a large percentage of Vermont residents that look to government to solve all problems.

      • They are in a sphere of authority.

        They most certainly can chime in on this, they were elected and sworn into office, to defend the rights and freedoms, to uphold the constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.

      • Frank, I get what you’re saying but here’s my question. If we support GOP candidates for election it is their job to support us. They take an oath (which as of late appears worthless) to defend the constitution of Vermont and do no harm. If they can not bring themselves to honor their oath, they will not honor us. It’s fairly easy to see who they are if you are paying attention at all. I’m not disputing what you said, just my opinion.

        • I agree. The elected office holder or candidate is the one whom makes the stand. The Vermont GOP as a group can issue a statement, but is not in a position- partially because so few republicans participate in the GOP-to do much more than that. The GOP could do more to support GOP candidates and those in office, but it is the individual candidate that takes the stand. Such as Rep. Vicki Strong. She needs the support of the GOP and additional legislators to make that stand. We are the minority party in Vermont, probably with fewer members than the progressives- and hold minority views here in Vermont.

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