Timothy Amoroso  of Shapleigh was leaving Customs House Wharf and turning onto Commercial Street in Portland July 15 when his SUV was surrounded by Back Lives Matter protestors. He says he believes the protestors should be held more fully accountable. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Timothy Amoroso of Shapleigh was leaving Customs House Wharf and turning onto Commercial Street in Portland July 15 when his SUV was surrounded by Back Lives Matter protestors. He says he believes the protestors should be held more fully accountable. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

ALFRED — A York County man who became caught up in a July demonstration by a group of Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland said he understands the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office has worked out a plea agreement with the 17 adults charged, but believes those responsible should be held more fully accountable.

Timothy Amoroso of Shapleigh, who retired from 30 years in the military a year ago, was the driver of an SUV that was surrounded by protesters on the night of July 15 on Commercial Street. Amoroso said he had attended a family gathering, walked around Commercial Street and then proceeded to Custom House Wharf around 9:30 p.m. to retrieve his vehicle and drive home. It was a hot summer night and his sunroof was open and his driver’s side window was down, he said.

He said the protesters were in the middle of Commercial Street  and ran over to his vehicle, kicked it, hit his windows, poked their fingers inside the open window and yelled at him as he moved the car slowly from Custom’s House Wharf and made a right tun onto Commercial Street.

“It wasn’t that I went to them, they came to me, surrounded my car,” he said. “All that was going through my mind was what would have happened if my mom was sitting there, or if she had been driving.”

Amoroso said he continued to slowly move his SUV forward. He said he believed stopping would have posed more danger.

“I continued to move the car slowly until police showed up and then I stopped,” he said, so officers could step in.

Amoroso was not injured; his vehicle sustained some minor damage.

The situation rattled him, he said.

Police charged the 17 adults with obstructing a public way and other misdemeanors.

According to a Jan. 6  Associated Press article, the charges will be dropped against the defendants if they meet certain conditions. All the terms were not specified.

According to  Amoroso, none of the charges address what happened to him.

Amoroso said that after police arrived and he was able to leave,  police asked him to submit a statement. He did so and heard nothing back, even though he called to make sure they received it — but he said he knows police are busy. 

He recently found video of the protesters surrounding his SUV and emailed it to Cumberland County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ackerman. 

Ackerman said there are no charges that address what happened with Amoroso because the district attorney’s office didn’t have the necessary evidence.

“If we had the evidence to support the charge, we would have brought it,” said Ackerman.

“I believe him wholeheartedly,” said Ackerman in a telephone interview late last week. “We didn’t have identifiable people (to charge),” either with the video or through Amoroso’s statement.

She confirmed that part of the plea agreement involves restorative justice, where those charged will meet and talk with police in an attempt to work out their differences. She declined to say what else is involved in the plea arrangement that is scheduled to be heard by a judge Thursday.

Attorney Jon Gale, who represents one of the protestors, declined comment. He pointed out that is the state who decides on what charges are brought, based on all of the evidence gathered. He said he worked to defend his client against the charges brought by the state, “as have all of the attorneys for the protestors.”

Amoroso, who spent 17 years with the National Guard and 13 on active duty with the U.S. Army, said one of his duties while stationed in Washington, D.C. was to assist civil rights activist Rosa Parks at an event some years ago.

“It was an honor,” he said of that experience. “I believe civil rights are important and protesting is an important part of our democracy and the way you protest is important.”

Amoroso said he’s disappointed in the outcome of the situation that involved him and believes the group of protesters was well organized.

He said he understands a plea deal has been made and that police and the district attorney’s office are able to hold the protesters to some accountability, but at the same time, his frustration remains.

“I want people to put their mother in that car and realize the organizers are not just protesting a good cause in the right way, they are a criminal organization and need to be accountable,” he said. “Thank God Portland Police Department was there for me.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]


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