The city of Bangor has rescinded a criminal trespass order against a Bangor man whom police cited after they found him erasing the chalk messages left by members of a local church in downtown Bangor late last week.
The city said Friday afternoon that it decided to rescind the trespass order, which banned Scott Hall from Pickering Square for one year, after investigating the Aug. 7 incident.
Hall was using a brush and bucket of water to erase Bible verses and other religious messages written with chalk on the sidewalks in West Market Square and Pickering Square by members of the Mansion Church, a local evangelical church. Police say they issued the criminal trespass order after Hall and another man got into a verbal altercation. Hall disputed the police department’s version of events.
Hall recorded the incident on video, and the subsequent outcry among downtown Bangor business owners and citizens caused much discussion on social media, and at public meetings this week, including at the Downtown Bangor Partnership meeting on Tuesday, about whether Hall’s civil rights were violated.
The city on Friday announced that the trespass order would be rescinded, effective immediately.
In a statement posted on the city’s Facebook page, city staff said the police officers involved acted reasonably, given the information they had at the time.
“The primary goal of those officers was to ensure that the situation was deescalated and that everyone remained unharmed,” read the statement. “The officers acted reasonably based upon the information that they had at the time and obtained in their investigations.”
The statement further indicated the support among city councilors and staff for Bangor’s LGBTQ community, and cited the 1984 murder of Charlie Howard as a painful reminder of hate crimes in the city’s past.
Mansion Church members held signs declaring homosexuality an abomination at the 2017 Bangor Pride festival, and their chalk messages often tell people to repent for their sins.
“The Bangor City Council and City staff have been, and will always be, supportive of all Bangor citizens, including members of the LGBTQ community. No one in our community should have to live in fear of reprisals from others who do not accept them for who they are,” read the statement.
Hall said he was pleased with the outcome, and that he had been asking for the city to rescind the criminal trespass order.
“I hope this can lead to bigger discussions about the hatred in our community, and the actions we can take to abolish it before it escalates into violence,” he said.