UPDATED: Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett was able to reply at length Monday to Wiscasset Newspaper’s request for comment after the demonstration. Here are his comments:
“I was able to participate in the event Friday and took the time to speak with attendees on both sides of the issue, thanking them for their participation. The gathering was peaceful and professional.
“Like many, I find myself on many levels both sad and angry at the untimely and unnecessary death of George Floyd. I am saddened first and foremost for the loss to the Floyd family. I am angered that this seemingly avoidable tragedy happened at the hands of police officers.
“I am angered by the fact that it has taken another tragedy like this one to raise the level of debate in our country over racism and biased policing. I am saddened that a few opportunists have detracted from the message of peaceful protests by turning to destruction and violence in some instances.
“I am saddened by the faces and voices of adults and their children who as a result of this tragedy, appropriately express fear and distrust toward police. It angers me that some unfairly paint all in my profession with the wide of racism.
“I have and will continue to do my part to end racism here in the United States. This includes my continued efforts to build public trust in the Sheriff’s Office, as well as my commitment to our ongoing efforts to learn, train, and practice all aspects of non-biased policing.”
Original post: Motorists peeped horns along Wiscasset’s Routes 1 and 27 intersection Friday afternoon as they passed socially distanced, face-masked demonstrators for racial equality in justice.
“Hate has no home here,” read the sign Westport Island’s Debbie Williams held. Williams said she feels everyone should try to make things better, and be supportive of everyone. As a former teacher, she feels strongly about that, she added.
Williams and others interviewed appreciated motorists’ horn-peeping and call-outs. In the heat and a breeze, demonstrators waved and gave thumbs up and peace signs in reply.
Bath Iron Works and other traffic was flowing through the intersection around 4 p.m. on the first June Friday since Maine Department of Transportation added traffic lights downtown, and the first Friday since Red’s Eats opened for the season. Among the motorists, a caravan of about 25 cars made multiple passes as part of the demonstration, an organizer, Rocky Coastlines, 30, of Whitefield said via email later.
A flyer Coastlines gave Wiscasset Newspaper at the event’s outset explained why Showing Up for Racial Justice held the demonstration and why on the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office lawn.
“There are uprisings against racist violence all across this country. We know that small, rural police forces like Lincoln County are not separate from the larger systems that have created and support the violence. We recognize that our white silence is a form of complicity ...”
The flyer cites no Lincoln County incidents. It notes the nationally reported deaths of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky in March.
Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett did not immediately return a Friday evening email request for comment on the demonstration. Maine Sheriffs Association, the Maine Chiefs of Police and Prosecutors associations and Maine Department of Public Safety “stand united with Maine people in mourning the senseless and unjust death of George Floyd,” Maine Sheriffs Association President Troy Morton and Maine Chiefs of Police Association President Jack Peck wrote in a joint statement released June 3.
“Together, we condemn the actions of those law enforcement officers responsible for Mr. Floyd’s death ... We must all learn from this and other tragic events so that they are never repeated ... There is no place for racism and police brutality in Maine or in our country,” the associations’ statement continues. “Maine law enforcement officers can and must do better ... We will all thoroughly review our policies and procedures, and we will continue to attract, hire and retain only the best police candidates (and) enhance our training to include important topics, such as implicit bias, to ensure that we support a system that guarantees equal justice under the law to every Maine resident.”
Wiscasset Newspaper counted about 30 demonstrators in the first half hour. Coastlines said the event ran about two hours and had about 105 people “on the ground at the peak,” including about 30 on the Donald E. Davey Bridge.
Wiscasset’s Ginny Freeman helped hold up a string of multi-colored fabrics along part of the demonstration line. Freeman said she was there on behalf of Neighborhood UCC in Bath.