December 15, 2018
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Council members denounce alleged pro-Trump attack as hate crime

BANGOR, Maine — A trio of Bangor City Council members is denouncing what they say was a hate crime against a black man in downtown Bangor Friday night. Police charged Joshua Pendergast, 42, of Bangor with misdemeanor assault late Monday.

Bangor City Council Chair Joe Baldacci, writing Sunday on his Facebook page, said, “[Two] days ago near Essex and Somerset streets in Bangor a young African American man was punched in the face and pushed to the ground, without any provocation, by an individual who after the assault told the African American man to watch out because Trump could deport him.

“Let’s be clear Bangor does not tolerate this kind of behavior,” Baldacci added.

Similar Facebook messages were posted by Councilors Sarah Nichols and Ben Sprague, who said he was sickened by the reported attack.

Bangor police Sgt. Tim Cotton declined after the arrest to say whether the incident would be recorded as a hate crime. He said detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division worked through the weekend to identify and locate the suspect.

The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics report, which was released Nov. 14, states Maine had 45 hate crimes in 2015, including two aggravated assaults, three simple assaults, 29 reports of intimidation and 11 acts of vandalism.

Pendergast faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted of the Class D crime. Cotton’s press release about Pendergast contained no mention of a woman who was reportedly involved in the incident. Pendergast’s first court appearance has been set for Dec. 21.

Bangor police Officer Daniel Perez was the first officer to respond to the scene at 9:52 p.m. Sunday.

“The [27-year-old] man told officers that a man and a woman assaulted him with punches to the face as well as some pushing,” Cotton said in an email.

Kate Dickerson and John Thompson, who live nearby, were walking home from a downtown event and happened upon the 27-year-old man, who was on the phone with police and was looking for his glasses, which he told them had been knocked off by attackers. Perez found the glasses broken. The man told Dickerson and Thompson that the man who attacked him smelled of alcohol, was wearing a suit and carrying a plastic cup.

“At one point Officer Perez started to suggest that it may not have been wise to be walking at that hour in that neighborhood,” Dickerson said in a letter to the City Council. “I respectfully interrupted him to say that we know that this was not the reason for this assault. We walk that route at all hours of day and night and have never had any problems. [The victim] was assaulted purely for the color of his skin, and whoever did this was arguably emboldened by recent events in the country.”

Cotton said the exact wording of what the assailants reportedly said to the man about President-elect Donald Trump is part of the ongoing investigation and would not be released.

The reported Trump-related assault is a first for Bangor, the sergeant said.

“Other than this complaint, we have had no reports of similar incidents,” Cotton said.

There have been a rash of hate crimes reported all over the country in the aftermath of Trump’s election, some in which the perpetrators said they support Trump, NBC has reported.

Shortly before the election, some residents of Appleton and Union reported that they received fliers purportedly left for them by the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Dickerson and Thompson are now calling on their neighbors to stand up for others.

“We are now pledging publicly what we have always done in a private way: We will work to protect all of those around us who need it; we will not accept any actions or behavior of adults that harms others as acceptable or the new normal; and we will demand real leadership from those who claim that mantle, not only to speak out against hateful words and actions, but to take actions of their own, protecting the rights of all,” Dickerson posted, and Thompson reposted, on her Facebook page. “We hope that you will join us.”

 


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