Authorities in Lincoln County have broadened their search for whomever is distributing fliers urging people to join the Ku Klux Klan after more fliers turned up in Boothbay Harbor, Southport and now Wiscasset.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Lt. Michael Murphy of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said five law enforcement agencies, the sheriff’s office and police from Boothbay Harbor, Wiscasset, Damariscotta and Waldoboro, are trying to find the person or people distributing the fliers. About a dozen have turned up so far, he said.

“While unsettling to many, this appears to be nothing more than an expression of free speech and does not seem directed at any one individual nor related to any other incident locally or nationally,” Murphy said. “However, the manner in which the fliers were distributed on both public and private property is a violation of Maine’s litter laws and an indication the distributors may lack organization.”

Anyone caught tossing KKK fliers on private or public property could be issued a citation and fined up to $500 for littering – a civil violation.

Initially, several Klan fliers were found in Boothbay Harbor and one in Southport, but Murphy said more fliers were reported in Wiscasset. Murphy said he believes that even more fliers may have been found but thrown away. The fliers claim that transgender people are jeopardizing the safety of bathrooms for women and children.

Murphy does not consider the fliers to be a hate crime because their message does not advocate violence toward transgender persons or any other group. The Maine Attorney General’s Office would become involved if it were considered a hate crime.

“Right now it’s only an opinion,” Murphy said. “In my opinion, it doesn’t rise to the level of a hate crime.”

The AG’s office and others did criticize the fliers’ message.

“The fliers are abhorrent to Maine values,” Timothy Feeley, a spokesman for the AG’s office, said Thursday in an email. “They are repugnant and have no place in our communities.”

Rachel Healy, director of communications and public education for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, said the fliers should serve as a “reminder that Maine is not immune to the racism we are seeing around the country.”

“Those in power and especially our elected officials should take this opportunity to condemn white supremacist ideology unequivocally,” she said.

The Rev. Sarah Foulger, a pastor at the Boothbay Harbor Congregational Church, also issued a statement Thursday.

“The Boothbay region is a community of love. The people who live here are overwhelmingly opposed to bigotry in any form and are eager to be welcoming and supportive one another regardless of skin color, gender and religious differences,” Foulger said. “There is no room for hatred in this town.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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