Warning: The above video contains profanity.
BELFAST, Maine — Just days after Belfast officials pleaded for more civility on the city’s Protest Corner, police issued citations to two people following a dispute there that was captured on a cell phone.
Danna Ware, of Troy, was cited for disorderly conduct, assault and reckless conduct after she allegedly stopped her car at the intersection of High and Main streets and got out to engage with anti-mask protesters who rallied there Sunday afternoon.
Police also cited protester Johanna Lane, of Winslow, for disorderly conduct.
An officer was patrolling the corner when Ware allegedly confronted Lane and other protesters about 1:50 p.m. Sunday, according to Belfast Police Chief Gerry Lincoln.
READ MORE ON BELFAST PROTESTS
Video taken by anti-mask protester Matt Norwood shows that Ware was wearing a mask and a lanyard that displayed an ID around her neck when she approached the protesters and told them that she worked in a “COVID-positive” place.
One of the protesters can be heard telling Ware, “I don’t want you to touch me. I feel threatened,” before Ware responds, “Why? But I want to touch you. You don’t have a mask on.”
A protester appeared to thrust a phone right in front of Ware, which she grabbed from their hands. The camera didn’t show exactly what happened in the next few seconds, which are noisy and chaotic. Then, Ware gets back into her car and peels away from the corner, as one of the protesters is heard saying she wants to press charges.
Lane was issued a citation for disorderly conduct after engaging with Ware, Lincoln said.
Ware declined Monday to comment, but Kaleigh Stanley, who organizes the regular anti-mask protests on the corner each Sunday, released a statement.
“Once again the hostility and aggression has come from the opposite side,” she said. “This time it is well-documented and recognized. I’ve already seen plenty rushing to defend these actions so my hope for the ‘civility’ that the city council has called for isn’t very high. The civility they mean only applies to those that agree with [their] narrative.”
Tensions have been rising on the corner, which also has been called “Resistance Corner,” since November, when anti-mask, anti-shutdown demonstrators began occupying the corner of Main and High streets every Sunday. They displaced Black Lives Matter activists who had protested there beginning early last summer.
“We were bullied off the corner,” Meredith Bruskin, a Black Lives Matter activist, said last month. “People came and were not wearing masks and were very aggressive. It was upsetting. We did not want to put anyone at risk.”
But Norwood, one of the anti-mask protesters, said in January that his group never meant to silence or displace other activists on the corner.
“I love everybody being out here speaking their minds,” he said.
At the request of city officials, the Black Lives Matter supporters relocated up the street to Post Office Square for the sake of safety.
Activists have been a regular sight at the corner for the past 20 years — mostly they’ve advocated for peace, social justice and the environment. But Bruskin, a longtime activist, said in January that the anti-mask and anti-shutdown protesters use more aggressive tactics than previous groups.
On Jan. 3, a man crossing the street with his dog stepped onto the curb to confront protesters. After exchanging words, a protester used both hands to push the man forcefully into the street.
Although no one was cited in that incident, Lincoln said that the police did not determine that the protester acted in self-defense when he pushed the man into the road.
On previous Sundays, police officers have kept an eye on the protests from their patrol cars. But this week, a beat officer was on the scene near the group when the fight erupted.