Lawyers for a 19-year-old man who was arrested on Tuesday after posting a message on Facebook encouraging rioters to tip over police cars told a judge he should be released on bail.
Daniel Zeron of Ashland is facing misdemeanor criminal threatening charges after allegedly posting on Facebook over the weekend an anonymous message encouraging people to march along South Willow Street in Manchester and “take examples from riots in other cities.”
“Police cars will be tipped. Graffiti is welcome,” read the post, which called for the rally to take place Tuesday evening. The message, posted early on May 30, was taken down that same day after authorities contacted Facebook.
During a bail hearing in Manchester on Wednesday, prosecutor Jeremy Harmon told the judge that while Zeron had no prior criminal record, the post showed “clear animosity towards police” and that his release would pose a threat to the public.
Harmon also described an encounter between groups of people and police that occurred overnight on South Willow Street that ultimately led to 15 arrests. Harmon indicated that Zeron’s post, which was not widely shared, was the cause for those events.
“The post led to an unprecedented response in this area,” said Harmon, including the deployment of the New Hampshire National Guard.
Zeron’s lawyer, however, argued that there was no evidence the groups who gathered on South Willow Street were motivated by her client’s message.
“This is happening all around the country,” Jillian Rizzo, a public defender, told the court. “That is quite the spectacular leap to me to say that a post that said four people were attending, that was up for less than 24 hours, shared by 25 people, liked by 27, is somehow the epicenter of everything that went on.”
Rizzo described the prosecution’s request for her client’s detention pending trial as unusual.
“They have never held a 19-year-old with no record for a single threat to commit property damage,” she said. “People charged with aggravated felonious sexual assault, serious assault, kidnapping, are released on bail every day.”
The judge didn’t issue an immediate ruling from the bench on whether Zeron would be released.
A trial has been scheduled for early July. If convicted, Zeron, who graduated from Plymouth High School in 2018 and now works as a server at a restaurant, faces up to 12 months in jail.