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Keene man charged with June Central Square 'chalking' assault

Union Leader Correspondent

July 21. 2014 8:03PM

KEENE — A Keene man has been charged with the June 3 Central Square “chalking” assault.

On Wednesday, six weeks after the assault, James M. Phillips, 24, of Keene turned himself in on a warrant for second-degree assault.

Phillips’ was released on $1,000 personal recognizance. He is set to be arraigned on the charge in the 8th Circuit Court-District Division on July 31.

The victim, Matthew “Yankee” Oldershaw, 30, of Keene has a long road to recovery ahead of him from his assault injuries, he said Monday.

Oldershaw is the president of the Free Party Union, an offshoot of the Occupy movement. The group holds “chalking events” in Central Square — creating chalk art on the pavement as a community building activity.

The evening of June 3, he said families, including several children, were creating chalk art in the Square when he was approached by businesswoman Dorrie O’Meara. He was arguing with her over the chalk art when Oldershaw was punched and pushed by a man, he said.

Oldershaw said he had never seen the suspect before in his life, but was surprised when no arrest was made afterward. Police had a suspect from the start from a video of the assault posted online and several eye-witnesses who stepped forward, so it seemed police were “dragging their feet” Oldershaw said.

Oldershaw said the assault was uncalled for, but said of the suspect, “I hope he can make it right and I’ll pray for him.”

Because of his injuries, Oldershaw is suffering from short-term memory loss and needs a cane to walk.

“My leg has such bad nerve damage, they say I’ll need three years of physical therapy to walk without a cane if I’m lucky,” he said.

Oldershaw is the father of a two-year-old daughter. He was working as a janitor at the United Church of Christ-Keene across from Central Square, but has been told by his doctors he cannot return to work because of his current condition.

In the interim, Oldershaw has been volunteering as a teacher of music at the homeless shelter once a week and is planning another community chalking event in Central Square this Friday afternoon.

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