Several residents of the Skowhegan area, including some members of the district’s school board, reported receiving fliers Monday inviting them to a white supremacist gathering at the Belfast Free Library on Oct. 27.

The fliers, which said they were from the 2019 Maine Green Independent Party, featured drawings of a Ku Klux Klan hood, a confederate flag and an Eye of Providence, which represents an all-seeing God watching over humanity.

The bogus flyer announcing a white supremacy gathering in Belfast. Contributed photo

There is no such event scheduled at the library.

Some who received the fliers believe they were targeted because they favored getting rid of Skowhegan Area High School ‘s “Indian” mascot, although others who wanted to keep the mascot also received fliers.

The School Administrative District 54 board of directors voted 14-9 in March to “respectfully retire” the nickname “Indians” for all schools in the Skowhegan district, making it the last district in Maine to end the use of Native American nicknames and imagery for sports teams.

Andy Bourassa and his wife, Stacie, received a flier in their mailbox Monday. The couple, and their 17-year-old daughter, had advocated replacing the mascot, he said.

Iver Lofving, a 28-year art teacher at Skowhegan Area High School, also publicly supported replacing the Indian mascot, and he also received a flier Monday.

“I think it’s harassment, so they are trying to scare us,” Lofving said. “I think it’s just to give us a message.”

Morrigan Knox McLeod said she also received a flier. McLeod said she had publicly advocated for replacing the mascot, but she did not feel singled out.

“I don’t think I’m being targeted. I think everyone who has been a proponent of change has been targeted,” she said.

Marc Malon, spokesman for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, said Tuesday that he spoke with an expert on the Maine Civil Rights Act who saw no violation of that act or any provision of the criminal code because the fliers do not contain a “threat of violence or property damage based upon the exercise of First Amendment rights or bias against race, color, national origin or the other categories listed under the Act.”

“Based on what we’ve seen, it does not appear that any laws were broken,” Malon said. “Just general white supremacist speech and other kinds of disgusting speech do not necessarily constitute a violation …”

Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said Tuesday that three people reported Monday evening that they had received fliers – two had advocated for changing the mascot name and one opposed the name change.

“We’re going to continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action when we’re able to find any additional information,” he said.

At least some members of the SAD 54 board who supported getting rid of the mascot received fliers.

Board member Derek Ellis said Tuesday that a friend asked if he had received a white supremacist flier, as that person, as well as others, had received them in the mail.

“I arrived at home to check my mail,” Ellis said. “There was a green envelope addressed to me with no return address. I knew what it was before I opened it. I can’t say that I was surprised at receiving it. I’m not surprised by much anymore, unfortunately. I get a lot of ‘fan mail’ and other ‘presents’ due to my role as a school board member. It was obvious that this was not the Maine Green Party or the Belfast public library hosting such an event.”

Ellis said that at first he chuckled about the fliers but then decided there was nothing humorous about it.

“It’s not funny – it’s not funny at all,” he said. “Later on that night, more folks had come forward to say they had also received the same fliers. They were sent to people that are playing an active role to help stop racism in our communities.”

Ellis said people need to “bridge the gaps between the far left and far right and to stem the ‘it’s us against them’ mentality before things escalate. Currently, tension keeps increasing, and some people are genuinely scared in our community. Like it or not, we’re all in it together. Anyone – regardless of color – anyone is welcome at my house.”

 

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