Eighteen people taking part in a national anti-poverty demonstration Monday were arrested when they refused to leave the grounds of the Blaine House as part of a direct action.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Capitol Police assisted by Maine State Police arrested the demonstrators taking part in the Poor People’s Campaign, who were charged with trespassing and failure to disperse.

McCausland said those arrested to were taken to the Kennebec County jail.

Marie Follayttar Smith, a member of the campaign’s coordinating committee and co-director of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, said in all, about 150 people turned out to take part in the rally on State House grounds as part of the national observance and also to highlight the “failure of the state Legislature to implement the will of the people” by not passing a range of bills before the legislative session ended earlier this year including expanding Medicaid eligibility to more state residents and making homelessness a state of emergency.

Follaytar Smith said Monday she was trying to confirm the number of people arrested, group members said 22 were arrested.

While permits for public rallies in Capitol Park and on State House grounds are routinely issued, no permits are issued for the Blaine House, which is the residence of the governor of Maine, McCausland said.

The Poor People’s Campaign sponsored events at more than 40 state capitals across the country Monday as well as the District of Columbia. The organization bills itself as a “national call for moral revival,” formed, according to information on its website, to challenge systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality.

Monday’s event was the start of six weeks of activities leading up to a global day of solidarity and rally on June 23 in Washington D.C.

In November 2011, nine people were arrested for refusing to leave the grounds of the Blaine House during an Occupy Augusta rally.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

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Twitter: @JLowellKJ