Protesters ‘sickened’ by hanged black effigies

Posted Nov. 09, 2008, at 9:18 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:16 a.m.

BAR HARBO0R, Maine — More than 75 people rallied Sunday against an incident last week in which black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island the day after Barack Obama won the presidential election.

Bar Harbor police said Sunday the demonstration was at noon on the Village Green in downtown Bar Harbor.

Dan Lourie, one of the organizers of the rally, said Sunday night that he was pleased with the turnout given the short time they had to set it up.

“We cherish the astonishing degree of diversity here, of races, religions and nationalities, and the harmony and peace among those of diverse origins,” Lourie said in his remarks Sunday on the Village Green. “Perhaps that is why we have been so distressed, so shocked and so sickened by the racial incidents which occurred on election night. There is no place in our community for racism or its vile expression in hateful incidents like the hanging of effigies discovered here.”

Lourie said that those who attended the rally were there to express their opposition to the criminal acts and “to show our outrage that our beloved community and our children were exposed to this despicable form of racism, to ask the authorities to identify and charge the culprits and hold them accountable, to give voice to our hope that this never happens again and, perhaps most important, to act in solidarity to affirm our faith and our joy in our inclusive community.”

The two figures, one in Bar Harbor and the other in Tremont, were about 2 feet tall and resembled gingerbread men. 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 last week 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 Maine State Police are investigating the incident in Tremont, he said.

Pinkham earlier told the Bangor Daily News that the people responsible for hanging the effigies could be charged with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge or possibly with a more serious hate crime.

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

In Gray, a student at Gray-New Gloucester High School was suspended after standing up in class Wednesday, making a racist comment and saying Obama should not be president. After a confrontation later that day in the hall between the 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.

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