Racist graffiti sparks anti-hate rally in Freeport

An anti-hate rally will be held Friday at Freeport Town Hall after several recent instances of vandalism involving racist graffiti.

Town Councilor John Egan organized the event, which will be held at 4 p.m. on the front lawn. A microphone will be available for people to share their perspectives and responses to acts of hate.

Earlier this month, a young boy found a swastika carved into a slide at the playground of the Morse Street School. In August, racial slurs were found spray-painted at a downtown parking lot, and in April, a swastika and racial slur were found carved into a public bathroom downtown.

“This is not who we are,” Egan said during a council meeting Tuesday night. “We are a community that is inclusive. We are a welcoming people.

“This kind of activity is not reflective of the values Freeport has.”

Councilor Darrel Fournier said he didn’t oppose the rally but questioned if it would bring more attention to the graffiti that the perpetrator or perpetrators are seeking.

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“I don’t know what the answer is,” he said.

“It’s not so much calling attention to a bit of graffiti here or an incident there,” council Chairperson Dan Piltch said. “It’s calling attention to: ‘These are the things we stand for. These are our values. These are the things we don’t tolerate.’ ”

Added Egan, “We don’t want to be in a place where we’re tolerating this kind of behavior.”

Fournier suggested offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the cases.

“That to me also sends a positive message that we’re serious about it and may lead to some tips that would help (police),” he said.

Councilor Edward Bradley agreed.

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“I would like us to have more backbone in this,” he said. “The forum is great. … If we have some concrete actions we’re going to take in response to these things when they occur, I think that furthers our point.”

The council didn’t take any action on Fournier’s request.

Piltch said he spoke with police Chief Nathanial Goodman, who reported the graffiti seems to be a work of a youth or a small number of people and not an organized group.

The mother of the boy who found the swastika at the Morse Street School said she was horrified by the discovery. She pointed to recent neo-Nazi activity in Maine, including demonstrations in Portland and Augusta and prominent white nationalist Christopher Pohlhaus’ attempt to recruit others to northern Penobscot County, where he purchased land.

“This is terrorism on its most basic level,” she said. “It is starting to be everywhere we turn, and my family found it in our kids’ faces.”

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