Protesters spread out along the side of the road in front of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in Wiscasset to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

WISCASSET — Protesters gathered at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office in Wiscasset Friday afternoon in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, calling for an end of police brutality against people of color.

(left-right) Kyle Foster, Rocky Coastlines and Yasmin Libardi. Coastlines held the protest on what would’ve been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

There were no speeches or chants. The demonstration was peaceful, drawing the supportive honking of passing car horns.

However, Steven Peaslee and two others brought their rifles to the protest and stood near the memorial across the street from the police station.

Peaslee said he “has no ill intent” and isn’t opposed to the protesters’ message but was concerned about reports of protests in other parts of the nation spiraling into vandalism. He said he wanted to ensure no one defaced the memorial that honors Wiscasset’s military veterans.

That scene was not unique to Wiscasset. Black Lives Matter protesters in rural Indiana on Monday encountered 21 bystanders, eight armed with rifles, along a bike path, according to an article in Politico. And in Stateville, North Carolina, a man was arrested for intimidating protesters with a rifle, according to WCNC TV.

In Wiscasset Friday, Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett walked along the line of protesters, thanking them for coming.

“I think what they’re doing is important,” Brackett said of the protesters. “They’re expressing their fundamental right to protest and I’m thankful they’re here. … I think the issue needs to be talked about.”

Brackett said Peaslee has the right to hold his firearm while standing near the memorial, and the protesters have the right to peacefully demonstrate along the side of the road.

Steven Peaslee (far left) said he agrees with the protesters’ message, but brought his firearm to the protest to ensure the monument would remain untouched if the protest spiraled into vandalism. Sara Wright (center) said she was intimidated by his rifle when she crossed the street to protest, but soon discovered the men were there to observe rather than instigate.  Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Sara Wright said she was intimidated by Peaslee’s gun at first, but said they later struck up a friendly conversation and the men gave her a bottle of water.

Ivan Putnam (left) and Cassidy Hicks (right) said they attended the protest to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and call for an end to police violence against people of color.  Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

On Wednesday, the Maine criminal justice community, which includes the Maine Sheriffs Association, released a statement condemning the actions of the officers responsible for Floyd’s death and promised to “thoroughly review our policies and procedures” while remaining transparent and “eliminating police cultures that condone any social injustices.

“Maine law enforcement officers can and must do better,” they wrote. “We will continue to enhance our training to include important topics, such as implicit bias, to ensure that we support a system that guarantees equal justice under the law to every Maine resident.”

Some demonstrators met in the Shaw’s parking lot in Wiscasset at 4 p.m. to tape “Black Lives Matter” signs to their cars, then drove three miles north on Route 1 to the sheriff’s office. Some joined the group of about 75 demonstrating near the office while others drove back and forth by the protests several times.

This protest and many others nationwide were sparked by a video of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, although Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe.

Zane Waterman, 8, holds up a picture of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last week. His mother, Tammy, hung a sign on her car that read “What if it was my son?”  Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Cassidy Hick said she came to the demonstration to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and show “there’s support everywhere, even in a small town in Maine.”

Several demonstrators said they weren’t protesting against local police, but rather police brutality as a whole. Kyle Foster said he hopes to see police reform, such as additional de-escalation training for police officers, in response to the numerous protests across the U.S.

“Just because we don’t see police violence here doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in this country,” added Gabe Dijiacomo. “It’s time for things to change.”

The demonstration in Wiscasset rounded off a week of protests in the Midcoast and across the state. The day before, Brunswick saw its second protest and on Monday people gathered in Bath to demonstrate in front of the county courthouse and police station.

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