AUGUSTA — Gov. Janet Mills on Friday signed into law a bill to prohibit unauthorized paramilitary activity intended to cause civil disorder, a spokesperson for her office said.

The bill came in response to a prominent neo-Nazi, who announced – and later canceled – plans to build a training camp for white supremacists in the rural northern Maine town of Springfield.

Attorney General Aaron Frey told lawmakers in February that current state law does not allow prosecutors to prevent that kind of activity. He also pointed to a 2021 incident in which a group of armed men in uniforms calling themselves the “Rise of the Moors” was traveling to Maine with the stated goal of paramilitary training.

Members of the Rise of the Moors never made it to Maine because they were apprehended in Massachusetts after an armed standoff along Interstate 95. They did not have licenses to carry firearms in that state.

The bill would allow the attorney general’s office to file for a court injunction to stop the activity and penalize anyone breaking the law with a Class D crime, which carries fines of $500 to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

Republicans argued that the bill would infringe upon the First Amendment right to free speech and assembly, and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. They also argued that the standards in the bill were too subjective and could lead to uneven enforcement across the state, putting groups like Boy Scouts and American Legions at risk.


Democrats argued those concerns were unfounded, saying the law clearly defines illegal activities and would discourage attempts by other hate groups to establish training camps in the state.

Civil disorder is defined as “any public disturbance involving an act of violence by a group of two or more persons that causes an immediate danger of injury to another person or damage to the property of another person or results in injury to another person or damage to the property of another person.”

A violation would occur if someone assembles two or more people, or instructs another person in “the use, application or making of a firearm, explosive or incendiary device capable of causing injury to or the death of, or techniques capable of causing injury to or the death of, another person if the person teaching, training or demonstrating intends or knows that the teaching, training or demonstrating is intended to be used by the other person in or in furtherance of civil disorder.”

The bill, L.D. 2130, narrowly cleared the House of Representatives, passing by one vote, before being approved 20-14 in the Senate.

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