CANTERBURY, N.H. (AP) — For almost three decades, 81-year-old David Lidstone has lived in the woods of New Hampshire along the Merrimack River in a small cabin adorned with solar panels. He has grown his own food, cut his own firewood, and tended to his cat and chickens.
But his off-the-grid existence appears to be at risk.
“River Dave,” as he’s known by boaters and kayakers, is behind bars after being accused of squatting for 27 years on private property in Canterbury. As the owner of the land seeks to tear down the cabin, Lidstone has been jailed since July 15 on a civil contempt sanction.
“You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em,” he told a judge at a hearing Wednesday. “I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir.”
Jodie Gedeon, an avid kayaker who befriended Lidstone about 20 years ago, is working with other supporters to help him, including organizing a petition drive and collecting money to cover property taxes.
“He’s just a really, really, big caring guy, and just chooses to live off the grid,” she said. “It really is about humanity, it really is about compassion, empathy … he’s not hurting anybody.”
Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Andrew Schulman agreed that Lidstone isn’t hurting anyone, but said the law is clearly on the landowner’s side.
“You’re doing your own thing in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, so there’s a lot of sympathy to you for…