No charges filed after arrest of vocal Newark City Hall critic

I’ve been meaning to do a profile on John Henneberry for quite some time:

NEWARK — A vocal critic of City Hall arrested in a dispute over seating at last month’s State of the City address was held for 32 hours in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin before prosecutors declined to file charges.

John Henneberry, known for his blistering critiques at council meetings, said the prosecutor’s decision shows that his arrest might be political payback for being a thorn in the city’s side. “The whole thing was wrong for a number of reasons,” he said. “I was just participating in government. I was not breaking the law.”

Henneberry, 45, learned of the decision to drop the case Wednesday when he arrived at the Fremont Hall of Justice for his arraignment. The District Attorney’s Office “declined to prosecute based on a review of all reports and evidence,” spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said.

The incident occurred April 18, as Henneberry sat in the gallery section of a ballroom at the Hilton hotel in Newark, shortly before Mayor Alan Nagy was to deliver the State of the City address.

The event flier, created by the Newark Chamber of Commerce, states that gallery seating would be open at no charge after 12:20 p.m., which is when Henneberry said he sat there. Within minutes, though, chamber officials asked him to leave. He refused, so police removed him, Henneberry said.

For more of the story, please click here.

Chris DeBenedetti


  1. John Henneberry is a character, He has been practicing his Constitutional rights by his critiques of Newark politicians.
    Chris wrote a good story about John, but He missed the most important part, the one newspapers have a responsibility. Johns civil (Constitutional) rights were violated.
    Chris and the Argus should be outraged the a critic of Newark Politicians was jailed for what????
    The Argus should be concerned when anyone’s civil rights have been violated.
    What now Argus, Chris??????

  2. Jasper,
    Thanks for your kind words about this story. Henneberry’s belief that his arrest/detention MIGHT be political payback for his vocal criticism was one of the reasons we did the story. The opinion that his constitutional rights were MIGHT get tested with a civil lawsuit is another reason. We’ll keep following the story, especially if a lawsuit is filed.
    Thanks for the comment.

  3. That sentence above should have read: “The opinion that his constitutional rights were violated MIGHT get tested …”

  4. Rumor has it that John has acquired a Powerful Civil Rights Attorney.
    Newark Citizens (Taxpayers)are going to make John a very rich man….
    So Goes Newark Politics

  5. There must be more to this story.

    Defendant attended a meeting and chose to ignore rules which required advance reservations. By itself, a non-citeable offense.

    When identified as participating in violation of these rules, defendant did choose to also ignore the request of (my speculation here) a big guy with a badge and a gun.

    Now, I’m not 100% certain – but, I’m pretty sure – that if I am instructed to do something by an officer of the law who is attempting to discharge the lawful duties of his/her job AND if I choose to ignore that request – – – I *think* you very quickly get into some kind of (legal) trouble.

    One thing I AM certain of is, every time I see those guys on “Cops” attempting to argue with the guy with the gun, they almost always seem to go for a very long ride.

    But, Henneberry hadn’t done anything wrong, right? – oh wait – he attended a public meeting in violation of the rules for participation and the people managing that meeting asked him to leave.

    Very definately, any litigation Henneberry brings, irrespective of which side prevails, will do very little for his personal economic gain, will largely go to the benefit of his representation, and will significantly burden the taxpayers of Newark well beyond the costs he and his actions have ALREADY saddled them with.

    And didn’t Mr. Henneberry claim to be interested in saving the city money . . . . so that the library could remain open longer?

    Guess not.

  6. Bbox, Looks like you have made a lot of assumptions based on ?????? Looks like you have already convicted him of attending a public meeting. Should we horse whip him….
    It was a public meeting, no charge and in the fine print, reservations requested. Well I was there with no reservation and they did not say a damned thing to me. It was selective violation of his civil rights period. Please check all the facts before passing judgment.
    I was very disappointed in your attitude

  7. I have made several assumptions, Jasper – based on facts that I’ve clearly stated. Feel free to challenge the assumptions if you wish and perhaps you’ll sway my thinking.

    I don’t know where the “horse whip” idea came from – that seems pretty extreme and has no relevancy to anything I suggested and isn’t productive to our conversation.

    However the requirement for participation was made, it was made – that’s a fact. When asked to leave, did not immediately comply – that’s a fact.

    Presumably, you were not identifiable to those who were running the meeting and as such, they didn’t know whether or not you had reserved a seat or not . . . . Unfortunately, one of the consequences of being an antagonist is that people begin to recognize who you are. Not saying it’s fair, but, I do not think it violates any civil rights.

    I have in no way “convicted” Henneberry and, in fact, left open the prospect that his claim could go either way. Specifically, when I stated that “…irrespective of which side prevails..”

    Let me know – specifically – where you think I’m wrong.
    Maybe, just maybe, someone *can* have a productive disagreement herein. . . . we’ll see.

  8. Making him spend a night and day in Santa Rita instead of citing and releasing him at the station as they should have by law is where they violated his rights.

    Taking him out of the meeting was a relatively minor thing.
    Intentionally sending him to Rita, where bacterial infections are running rampant at the moment,is not a minor thing.
    They put the man’s health in danger.

    Pretty creepy if you ask me.

  9. This was a political move by the amateur politicians ruining Newark. John even stated, if you read the story, That this was a pay back.
    John is a true Anarchist, I do not support a lot of what he is saying or his techniques,
    but I support His right to say and do so, practicing His Constitutional Rights.
    He has been a thorn in the side of the Newark City Manager and Mayor and Newark City Council. At times He has been disruptive but always within the law. If you have been following Newark Politics, A case Study into how to ruin a City, You would know that John is a frequent speaker critical of the Mayor and City Council Members.
    He is the Only Person I know that cares enough about his city to stand up to the Bureaucracy . I am surprised that Newark Police did not use there new tank to arrest him.

  10. Yeah~He was ASKING for it.

    Just like RFK , MLK, Lennon, Milk, david Koresh, Oscar Grant Or any other liberal, commie socialist Undesirable ASKIN’ QUESTIONS and MAkin’ PROBLEMS.

    Who the hell he think he is anyways?

    Never Forget 9/11
    Support the Troops
    Freedom isn’t free!

  11. #9 I think you make some good points. I bet you are right that there was a bit of payback involved. But where do you think henneberry’s civil rights were violated?

  12. # 11 TON-i

    Remember the Alamo!
    Remember the Maine!!
    Remember the Pearl Harbor!!!
    and don’t u forget…BACON MEANS BUSINESS!!!!

  13. #9 – You make some good points. You’re probably right about this being a bit of pay back. But, I’m unclear as to when/where you think there was a civil rights violation.

  14. #13
    Remember the Pueblo!
    and don’t u forget…see #12!

  15. Bbox #13
    Being unlawfully detained, arrested is not a violation of his civil rights?????????????????

    I am disappointed in you Bbox

  16. How and where was he “unlawfully” detained?

    He attended a meeting and ignored the requirement to pre-register. When asked to leave, he ignored the request which (I think) results in a minor offense, but, one which is nonetheless, chargeable.

    Once detained, there has already been an explanation of unfortunate circumstances which resulted in him being held longer than anyone would have hoped.

    It’s B.S.

    It likely is payback for the criticism he’s been tossing at City Hall.

    But, I don’t think there’s anything there that will pass a legal test of a civil rights violation.

    I’m sorry your disappointed. I didn’t think there was anything personal in this discussion.

  17. #16
    Is being unlawfully detained the as bad a being lied to… for example “Bacon means business”? Come on Vinnie, time for you to come clean!

  18. #16 The “unfortunate circumstances” that they made up as an excuse for willfully violating his civil rights!
    -Which resulted, just as they had hoped, in his not only being held longer, but also being taken to the county lockup and held with actual criminals.

    and what about the question of police buying stolen guns “no questions asked” straight from the thief who stole them at gun buyback Bbox? It’s been almost a week now.
    You have any possible explanation for that unfortunate circumstance?

  19. Remember Ray Taliaferro!
    Remember Helen Thomas!
    Remember Ralph Barbieri!

    Remember Rick Steves Iran!

  20. #18 – so we have a difference of opinion.

    Tony and Jasper share the common conclusion and think there’s been a violation of civil rights.

    I think there’s been a miscarriage of justice which was enabled – in large measure – by the poor decision making of Henneberry himself – but which stops well short of a civil rights violation.

    If I’m wrong, as Jasper says Henneberry’s attorneys will realize the economic benefits of a lengthy trial and eventual settlement.

    P.S. – What’s been “almost a week” Tony? I’m missing something.

  21. Bbox, We can speculate til the cows come home. Lets see how it plays, out in the courts.

  22. #20…Yes, TON-i, a lot of people have got shafted. Must agree with Steves that Norwegian and Persian food are challenging to eat. I think Rick Steves, being a resonable person would agree that “Bacon means bussiness” is a bold faced lie. Your thoughts?

    #21…What we need in this case is a hanging judge.

  23. Rick wouldn’t call him a liar, but he’d smile saying ” But, most people we met, told us, it wasn’t true, just political gimmickry, and that everybody knew, that really, as it always had since the days when Fremont was just a bunch of orchards, that … Bacon means Breakfast.

  24. #24 – Hit me over the head with it Tony.

    Should be pretty simple.

    What am I missing?

  25. #25…The point is political gimmickry is just a lie and Saint Vinnie is no better than all the other lying politicians out there. Bacon is in fact more of a job killer than a job creator…your thoughts?

  26. #28 Boxie…Bacon lied about being a job creator. Opposing the stadium killed more jobs than Vinnie can ever hope to create. The guy who you are trusting to clean up this town is no better than the liars that proceed or might follow him. Thanks to you and yours Fremont will never be a world class city and you my friend must take responsibility for that…sweet dream!!!

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