AUGUSTA — Three protestors peacefully took to the State House complex to voice their frustration over President Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, claiming the election was stolen, amid a significantly increased police presence.

The three men walked around the outskirts of the state Capitol complex, two of them carrying signs. They said they had no intention of trying to enter the building which was guarded on all sides by numerous police, or causing any problems, in stark contrast to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by angry supporters of now-former President Donald Trump.

“I’m just going to walk around the Capitol and speak my piece,” said Jason Gibbons of Richmond, who carried an American flag with a smaller “Don’t Tread of Me,” flag attached to it and a sign that read “Stop the Thief.” “I feel like the election was stolen. I could be wrong. But I have a right to be wrong. I’m totally peaceful. This may cost me some friends, but I feel the need to protest.”

Claims that there was widespread election fraud and the election was “stolen” by Biden, pushed by Trump, have widely been dismissed as untrue after numerous unsuccessful court challenges and an investigation into the integrity of the election by federal officials.

But Tom Foy of Hallowell, who wore a Patriots jacket and drove a car with an American flag on its antenna and a small “Biden sucks” sign in its rear window, insists there is no way Biden could have gotten as many votes as the election results indicated, and thus the election was stolen by him.

“I’m disappointed in the system itself,” he said of the election of Biden. “Our government did the wrong thing. I feel it was an unfair process. Not fair to President Trump but, more importantly, not fair to the United States people.”

Foy said socialism is his biggest concern with Biden taking office Wednesday. He carried a sign that stated “IMPEACH BIDEN AND DEMOC RATS! HE IS SELLING US OUT TO CHINA AND DESTROYING OUR GREAT USA. DON’T ALLOW IT. STOP SOCIALISM BY DEMOCRATS.”

Tom Foy of Hallowell carries a sign while protesting Wednesday at the Capitol in Augusta. Keith Edwards/Kennebec Journal

The 65-year-old said 2016 was the first time he ever voted, because before then he didn’t see any reason to vote, but he saw Trump as an outsider and a better choice than lifelong politicians.

Jim Newton of Buckfield didn’t carry a sign, but said he had come to support the people exercising their First Amendment rights to speak out. He, too, said he believes the election was stolen.

The 26-year Navy veteran, who cited multiple family members as also having served or currently serving in the military, said they served to protect the right of people to say what they want in exercising their free speech.

“Whether there are one, two, or 1,000 people I’m so proud of Maine people who are speaking up,” Newton said.

Foy said a majority of the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 were not true Trump supporters and were a group that had gone to the event specifically to cause trouble, with a nefarious mindset.

Gibbons walked back and forth along State Street in front of the Capitol. Foy did the same and also stood at the intersection of State and Capitol streets, where the driver of one pickup truck with a large American flag mounted on its bumper, seeing Foy and his sign, beeped his truck’s horn which played the song “Dixie” with a series of beeps.

Numerous police officers were on the Maine State House grounds or drove through and past the site while inauguration ceremonies took place in Washington, D.C., ranging from Maine State Police and Capitol Police to Augusta Police.

A team of about 10 Maine State Police troopers, wearing riot gear and carrying large clear shields, got out of a black van and went into the Cross State Office Building around 11 a.m., and police, behind concrete barricades and parked cruisers, guarded the State House entrances, which none of the protestors approached.

Following a pre-inaugural celebration, people walk over a bridge with a banner reading “Wayne, Maine Supports A Peaceful Transition” on Wednesday in Wayne village. About 50 people attended the 10 a.m. event where they walked by 68 blue and red signs that displayed the chronological order of each inauguration and the name of each president from George Washington to Joseph R. Biden. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

National reports indicated there could be armed protests at state capitols around the country and there has been a stepped up police presences at the Maine State House for several days. There were no protests over the weekend, despite the presence of numerous police, and members of the media.

Elsewhere in Augusta on Inauguration Day two Homeland Security police cruisers were parked on Sewall Street in front of the Muskie Federal building, while security at the Capital Judicial Center appeared to be normal, and the courthouse remained open.

It was a different scene in Wayne, where a group of about 50 people gathered to support a peaceful transition of power, with a 60-foot-long sign that read “Wayne, Maine Supports a Peaceful Transition” hung on the footbridge by Mill Park.

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