Brunswick Town Councilor Kathy Wilson returned to her car from a 9/11 remembrance ceremony Monday morning to discover a flier tucked under her windshield wiper. When she looked more closely at it, she felt threatened.
The flier, one of several discovered in town in the past week targeting gay people, the group Black Lives Matter, and a local columnist, claims to be produced by “The Forest Brothers,” equates the gay pride flag with a red symbol similar to the hammer and sickle icon of the Communist Party, next to a red star.
Wilson, who is gay, feels she might have been targeted because she has a rainbow sticker on her car. After parking at the corner of School Street and Park Row, she scanned nearby cars but found no fliers tucked under any other wipers. She took a photo of the flier, emailed it to Brunswick police Lt. Mark Waltz and later dropped the paper off at the police station.
“I definitely think I was targeted, either because of my [rainbow] sticker or because people know I’m gay,” the 72-year-old woman said. “I’m very out.”
Waltz said Tuesday that on Sept. 6, employees at Burger King at Cook’s Corner reported finding fliers in the restaurant, one targeting a local columnist and one stating, “Black Lives Matter = Killing Police Officers.”
He said police are investigating both incidents.
Whether placing the flier on Wilson’s car is a crime depends on whether she was targeted. If so, he said, the culprit could be charged with harassment.
“There’s no such thing in Maine as a ‘hate crime,’ but it is an aggravating factor for sentencing,” he said.
According to various sources, the Forest Brothers were peasants who worked for the resistance during the Russian Revolution and later against the Soviets during the Cold War.
“I’m not actually sure what their message was,” Wilson said. “I’ve been out since I was 13, and I’m 72 now. I went through all that, but I thought it had gone away, at least in Maine and at least in Brunswick. But the current political administration has given people license to act on [their hate]. They feel they have permission to do whatever they want now. You take Charlottesville — they felt they had the permission to be hateful and act on it and kill someone.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, does not list The Forest Brothers on their 2016 Hate Map. The three groups identified in Maine are a statewide Ku Klux Klan branch, a statewide racist skinhead group, and an anti-LGBT group based in Lewiston.
Wilson said the flier definitely won’t affect how she lives her life. In fact, as a member of the town council’s Human Rights Task Force, she’s already sent copies of the flier to other members and plans to bring it up at their next meeting.
“This person clearly is a coward or he would own up to it and sign it” she said. “I think anyone who harbors this kind of hate is lacking in brain matter. Good, smart people don’t do this. If you’re good enough to walk around and put these on windshields, own up to it and let’s have a conversation. I’m more than willing to sit down and talk to someone — I don’t care how much they hate me.”
Waltz asked anyone with information about either incident to contact Brunswick police.