PORTLAND, Maine — Protesters disrupted a City Hall ceremony Wednesday night honoring police Chief Michael Sauschuck.
A group of about 12 stood with their hands raised above their heads and began shouting as City Council honored Sauschuck for being named the Maine Association of Police’s 2017 police Chief of the Year, according to media reports.
Outside city hall, the group chanted “black lives matter” as the police chief walked to his car.
The City Council temporarily adjourned until the protesters left. In a WMTW-TV video, one can be heard saying “good job, murderer,” as she walked past Sauschuck.
The small protest was the first prominent public action by activists since Sgt. Nicholas Goodman killed Chance David Baker, 22, on Saturday. Baker was brandishing a rifle-style pellet gun during the time of the incident.
The shooting kickstarted a tense public debate over implementing police body cameras in Portland that has highlighted political divides in City Hall, despite apparent agreement on the value of the devices. But the mayor, city manager and city councilors have been unanimous in their praise of Sauschuck’s leadership.
“As not in vogue as it is to have trust in your leader — this is a leader who deserves some trust,” Councilor Belinda Ray said before the meeting.
The Office of the Maine Attorney General is investigating Baker’s shooting, which will be reviewed by the Portland Police Department. Both steps are standard procedure in police shootings.
At a Tuesday press conference, Sauschuck said he has deep faith in the training, integrity and decision making of his officers. The chief also said he was “disgusted” by what he sees as the politicizing of a young man’s death.
Jill Duson, the only city councilor to attend the police press conference, said afterward that Sauschuck has consistently been deserving of trust and respect.
“I trust him,” she said Tuesday. “I think our community trusts him.”