Police: Pair of black effigies found on MDI

Posted Nov. 07, 2008, at 9:56 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:16 a.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Police are investigating two incidents in which black figures were left hanging by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island the day after Barack Obama won the presidential election.

The figures, one of which was found in Bar Harbor and the other in Tremont, each were about 2 feet tall and resembled gingerbread men. The figure in Bar Harbor had a horseshoe tied to the end of the rope so it could be thrown up over tree branches. Aside from their color and the timing of their appearances, there was nothing distinct about the figures that made specific references to Obama.

Lt. James Pinkham of the Bar Harbor Police Department said Friday that the Bar Harbor Fire Department removed one from trees hanging over Route 102 and Old County Road after it was reported to police by an unidentified woman. He said it and the other figure, found in the Tremont village of Seal Cove, were reported to police around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The incident in Tremont is being investigated by Maine State Police, he said.

Police are considering the possibility that the incidents may be connected with Obama’s election victory, according to Pinkham. Obama is the first president with distinct black ancestry.

Pinkham said that whoever hung the figures up could be charged with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge or possibly with a more serious hate crime. He said the local Police Department would forward whatever recommendations it may have to the Attorney General’s Office if it is able to determine who hung the effigies.

Bar Harbor resident Dan Lourie said Friday he is trying to organize a local rally on Sunday in response to the incidents. He said Friday evening that he has sent out e-mails to people who might participate but had not yet been able to see how many had responded.

“We want to make a statement that we’re an inclusive community,” Lourie said. “This despicable act should not go unacknowledged.”

The tentative time for the rally is noon Sunday on the Village Green in downtown Bar Harbor, he said.

If the effigies were hung because of Obama’s win, it would be the second known incident in Maine in which officials are investigating a possible racist act connected with the election.

In Gray, a student at Gray-New Gloucester High School was suspended after standing up in class Wednesday and making a racist comment and saying Obama should not be president. After a confrontation later that day in the hall between that student and one of the school’s black students, the black student found graffiti saying the same thing about the president-elect on the wall of the boys restroom.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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