An activist filed a last-minute lawsuit on Thursday asking a federal judge to block plans by the U.S. Secret Service and Maine law enforcement officials to close roads in Guilford as President Donald Trump visits a manufacturing facility there on Friday.
Khalif Williams, a racial justice organizer from Blue Hill who plans to travel to the Piscataquis County town to protest the president, claims the plan to secure roads in Guilford violates his constitutional rights to free speech, assembly and equal protection under federal law.
Local authorities are planning to close roads in Guilford ahead of the president’s arrival at the Puritan Medical Products facility in the downtown area, where he will take an afternoon tour and give remarks after likely arriving by helicopter from the Bangor International Airport.
A dispatcher for the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday people should avoid the Guilford area between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. While Elm Street, which is part of state routes 6, 15 and 16 heading north, may remain open, main streets in the downtown area will be closed.
Williams’ lawyer, Logan Perkins of Belfast, alleges that Trump supporters are already in the area and are planning a demonstration as he arrives in town. The activist wants the same level of access to appear near Puritan and the president’s motorcade to use “signs, banners, or expressive clothing” to make his anti-Trump view known.
The filing asks Walker to declare the road closure plan unlawful and allow access to the area. The Secret Service, the Piscataquis County sheriff and the Maine Department of Public Safety commissioner are named as defendants. The case was assigned to U.S. District Court judge Lance Walker, who was appointed by the Republican president in 2018.
Large anti-Trump protests are not expected in the Guilford area. Organizers of a Bangor protest have urged people to avoid the area because of its small size, fear of spreading coronavirus in a county with only one documented case so far and potential confrontations with Trump backers.
Shutting down roads traveled on by the president is standard operating procedure for the Secret Service, though they often allow people to congregate along the sides of the route as long as they people stay away from the street.