Protesters were arrested at two of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ Maine offices Monday, shortly after she announced her support for a closely watched Republican tax bill.
Three protesters were arrested by a federal official at Collins’ Bangor office and later released. Five protesters also were arrested at the Republican senator’s Lewiston office by local police Monday and charged with criminal trespassing after they refused to leave, according to the Sun Journal.
The arrests came soon after Collins announced her support on the Senate floor for the final version of the Republican tax bill package that critics say would favor corporations and the wealthy.
Jessica Stewart, 38, of Bass Harbor; Ridgely Fuller, 71, of Belfast; and Sharon Dean, 70, of Machias were arrested in Bangor by a U.S. Federal Protections Officer just before 5:30 p.m. The three protesters refused to leave, even after an officer warned them they faced arrest.
The Bangor protesters were escorted out of Collins’ office without handcuffs and held in a different part of the federal building. They were issued violation notices for failure to comply with a lawful order and released at 6:30 p.m. They have the option to pay a $130 fine or appear before a judge, where they could face up to 30 days in jail.
Federal Protections Services is a branch of Homeland Security and monitors the Margaret Chase Federal Building, where Collins’ Bangor office is located.
Dean has voted for Collins in the past, because the senator historically has not been beholden to the Republican party, she said. But the new tax bill is “morally and politically costly” to Collins, Dean said.
“I want to see her use the same level of bravery I’ve seen before,” she said. “I want her to do the right thing.”
Protests in response to Collins’ support of the GOP tax bill, which critics say lowers taxes for the rich and hurts middle- and low-income Americans, have broken out across the state this month.
On Dec. 4, five protesters were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing by Bangor police for refusing to leave Collins’ office, after staging a sit-in for half a day. The charges were later dropped by the Penobscot District Attorney’s office. Later that week, nine faith leaders staged a similar demonstration and were ultimately arrested in Collins’ Portland office after occupying it for 10 hours.
Several protesters, organized by Mainers for Accountable Leadership, also picketed outside Collins’ office in the snow Monday.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified when the Bangor protesters were arrested.