A rally in Portland that began as a cry for elected officials to enact sensible gun safety laws turned boisterous as protestors ended with chants of “lock him up,” a reference to President Trump’s incendiary rhetoric that some said set the tone for mass shootings in Texas and Ohio last weekend.

About 50 people gathered in front of Portland City Hall on Thursday evening for a demonstration to stop domestic terrorism.

Police stood nearby during the peaceful rally, which lasted about an hour and featured several speakers.

Rally organizer Diane Russell, a former state legislator, urged the crowd to denounce what she described as a new wave of domestic terrorism, “spurred by a radical online network of white supremacists and given implied approval from the president of the United States.”

Protesters listen to speakers talk about gun violence in America while gathered at Thursday’s rally against domestic terrorism. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Russell said Mainers need to call upon their elected leaders to address mass shootings with rational gun policy, such as universal background checks, and to deconstruct the online white supremacy network by calling it for what it is, “domestic terrorism.”

Several protestors held signs saying things such as “I don’t go to school to get shot” and “It’s the guns stupid.” Following the mass shootings last weekend that killed 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump said mental illness and hatred were to blame for the tragedies, not guns.

Others were more blunt.

“Lock Him Up” was on the sign held by Tom Rondina of Boothbay. Rondina said he has seen and heard enough of the president’s rhetoric, including Trump urging four liberal congresswomen of color, who are also U.S. citizens, to go back to the countries they came from if they don’t like the way the country is being run.

“He’s contributing to the problem. He’s setting the tone (for the attacks),” Rondina said.

Jonathan Treacy of Oxford is the former deputy director for the Pentagon’s Anti-Terror and Homeland Defense unit, a position he held in 2009-2010. He also served in the Marine Corps and Air Force for more than 30 years.

From right, Lillian Frame, 18, Helen Strout, 16, and Makena Deveraux, 18, all of Cape Elizabeth, gather at Thursday’s rally at Portland City Hall. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Treacy said domestic terrorism has existed in the United States for years, if not decades. The government just hasn’t made addressing it a priority.

“We decided not to take actions and the results were predictable,” Treacy told the crowd. “Here we are and we have very few effective tools for preventing the next attack from happening.”

Treacy said it may be time for government to do more surveillance of potential domestic terror threats, but he also urged rally-goers to “tell Washington to find a spine” and enact common-sense gun laws.

Judi and Wayne Richardson lost their daughter Darien, who was 25 at the time, to gun violence in 2010. She was shot by an intruder while sleeping in her Portland apartment. Her killer is still at large.

The Richardsons said the Senate needs to reconvene and enact legislation calling for stronger background checks.

“Mainers think they are safe, but it is only a matter of time before gun violence occurs,” Judi Richardson said.

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