More than 100 people gathered Tuesday evening in Monument Square in Portland to pray for and remember the victims of a shooting Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado that killed three, including a police officer, and injured nine more.

Organized by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the vigil was a solemn ceremony led by local clergy.

The crowd stood mostly in silence, many holding candles while religious leaders took turns at a microphone offering prayers and affirmations.

“This night we reaffirm a moral promise,” said the Rev. Marvin Ellison, a theologian and volunteer chaplain for Planned Parenthood in Maine. “Even in our grief and anger, we will not answer violence with violence.”

Robert L. Dear Jr. was charged with first-degree murder for the attack. If he is convicted, Dear will face at least life in prison, or at maximum, the death penalty.

Dear allegedly shot and killed police Officer Garrett Swasey, and civilians Ke’Arre Marcell Stewart and Jennifer Markovsky.


The shootings and standoff in Colorado Springs triggered a wave of reaction across the nation, with some clinics ramping up security following the attack.

Although there was no specific threat to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Congress Street in Portland, the health-care provider hired an extra police detail to stand watch during business hours the day after the attack, said Nicole Clegg, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Pro-life protesters frequent sidewalks outside the clinic, often carrying signs and handing out pamphlets.

Alex King, a 19-year-old University of Southern Maine student, was among those who attended the vigil.

King said she has depended on Planned Parenthood before and was disturbed by the violence in Colorado.

While there has been no violence or vandalism at the facility in Portland, a clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire, was severely damaged Oct. 21 when a juvenile broke in and smashed equipment, computers and plumbing fixtures with a hatchet. It wasn’t until Monday that the clinic reopened to patients, Clegg said.

Following the shootings, Clegg said clinic staff and police re-evaluated security at the location, but she and Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck declined to give specifics.

“Maintaining patient safety is our number one priority,” Clegg said.


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