A group of protesters was arrested Monday at the governor’s mansion in Augusta after they refused police orders to leave the property.
Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said 18 people were arrested around 3:30 p.m. and charged with trespassing and failure to leave the grounds of the Blaine House, which is the state-owned governor’s residence adjacent the State House.
Marie Follayttar Smith, one of the protest organizers, said the rally started outside the State House but then moved across the street to the Blaine House.
“The police gave the protesters a 15-minute warning and then a five-minute warning,” said Smith, who was not arrested. “At the five-minute warning, those who could did sit down to give a sign that they would not be leaving.”
Smith said the protest was part of a national “Poor People’s Campaign,” a coordinated six-week campaign of nonviolent direct action. Monday’s event was one of more than 30 that took place across the country. Smith said some of the protesters were the same people who have been arrested in recent months for protests at Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ offices.
Three women who were involved in a protest at Collins’ Bangor office in December were sentenced Friday to 24 hours in jail for failing to comply with repeated orders to leave the premises. They did their time during the weekend.
While McCausland said 18 people were arrested by Maine State Police and Capitol Police, Smith said the number was 22. Another of the protesters differed with McCausland about the charges levied and said she was charged with unlawful assembly. A Capitol Police officer and a an officer at Kennebec County Jail in Augusta could provide no further information Monday evening.
Smith said the motive for the protest was a number of state and national issues including past and pending cuts to social services and the Legislature’s adjourning earlier this month with unfinished business after House Republicans voted against extending the regular session.
“Our Legislature walked out on the Maine people and LePage has as well,” she said. “That’s why we chose that location to protest.”
Smith provided a list of 22 people who were arrested, but the Bangor Daily News could not independently verify the names.
Jessica Stewart of Bass Harbor said she was one of the arrestees and received a summons for unlawful assembly. She said the arrests were “peaceful and cordial.” She has a court date of July 9.
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