Andy Bourassa and his wife, Stacie, stopped walking from their home to the Skowhegan Farmer’s Market on Saturdays about two weeks ago since being harassed by passersby in vehicles.

“They were yelling, ‘You’re a (expletive) loser, jump off the (expletive) bridge, go kill yourself,’ ” Andy Bourassa recalled.

The bogus flyer announcing a white supremacy gathering in Belfast. Contributed photo

The couple, as well as their daughter, 17, have been targeted because of their stance advocating for the removal of the Indian mascot from Skowhegan Area High School, he said.

On Monday, that harassment appeared to continue as the family received a flyer in their mailbox at home purporting to be from the 2019 Maine Green Independent Party and inviting them to a white supremacist gathering Oct. 27 at the Belfast Free Library. There is no such event. The flyer bears drawings of a Ku Klux Klan hood, a confederate flag and and an Eye of Providence, which symbolizes an all-seeing God watching over humanity.

Andy Bourassa, the HomeStart supervisor for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, said he and his family receive their mail at a post office box and the flyer, which was postmarked, was left in an old mailbox at their house.

“The only people that have the street address are the voting registry,” he said. “It even had the apartment number. Somebody definitely found that address from an alternative location.”

The Bourassas are not the only ones targeted.

Iver Lofving, a 28-year art teacher at Skowhegan Area High School, also was vocal about removing the Indian mascot, and he received a flyer Monday in the mailbox at his house.

“I think it’s harassment, so they are trying to scare us,” Lofving said. “I think it’s just to give us a message.”

This is not the first time he and his wife, Maili Bailey, who he describes as a woman of color, have been targeted.

“My wife and I two years ago were headed into the movie theater and people surrounded us and yelled ‘white power,’ and on our way out of the theater in Skowhegan, they did the same thing. It was very disturbing.”

Marc Malon, spokesman for the Maine Office of the Attorney General, said Tuesday that he spoke with an attorney in that office who is an expert on the Maine Civil Rights Act and she saw no violation of that act or any provision of the criminal code, as the flyers do not contain a “threat of violence or property damage based upon the exercise of First Amendment rights or bias against race, color, national origin or the other categories listed under the Act.”

Malon noted that he is not a lawyer and does not conduct legal analysis, so his comments are rooted in the legal analysis provided by that office’s attorney.

“Based on what we’ve seen, it does not appear that any laws were broken,” Malon said. “Just general white supremacist speech and other kinds of disgusting speech do not necessarily constitute a violation …”

Steve Norman, director of the Belfast Free Library, said in a phone interview Tuesday that he finds the flyer disturbing.

“This is a hoax,” Norman said. “There is definitely not a white supremacist rally at the library on that day.”

Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation tribal ambassador, plans to speak Oct. 14, Indigenous People’s Day, at the library. That date is not the same as the one on the flyer, Oct. 27. Norman said he does not have a clue as to why the flyers involved the library.

“I think this is a dirty trick, and I am dismayed that this library has been involved in it by whoever is doing it,” said Norman, the library’s director for 18 years. “So, it’s a dirty trick. I hope whoever is responsible is identified.”

Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said Tuesday that three people reported Monday evening that they received flyers and it appears two of the three had advocated for changing the Indian mascot name and one did not want the name changed.

SAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry. Morning Sentinel file photo

Bucknam said he contacted SAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry about the flyers and Colbry was initially unaware of the flyer issue but checked with some board members and learned they had received flyers.

“We’re going to continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action when we’re able to find any additional information — we would follow through with that,” he said.

Colbry did not return a call placed to his office Tuesday.

A call to the Maine Green Independent Party was not returned.

Contacted Tuesday, Emily Spera, public information officer for the the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Boston Division, said in an email that her agency is aware of the mailing sent to addresses in Somerset County.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Spera said, is the law enforcement, crime prevention, and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service, which works to ensure America’s confidence in the U.S. mail by enforcing more than 200 federal laws in investigations of crimes that may adversely affect postal customers or fraudulently use the U.S. mail. Spera encouraged people who think they are the target of a scam to contact her office:

“Anyone who suspects they’ve been targeted by a scam involving the U.S. Mail are encouraged to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455 or online at uspis.gov to report suspected fraud online.”

At least some members of the School Administrative District 54 Board of Directors who supported the removal of the Indian mascot also received the flyer.

Board member Derek Ellis said Tuesday that a friend contacted him Monday to ask if he had received a white supremacist flyer, as that person, as well as other people, had received them in the mail. Ellis was not home at the time, so his friend sent him a photo of the flyer, he said.

“I arrived at home to check my mail,” Ellis said. “There was a green envelope addressed to me with no return address. I knew what it was before I opened it. I can’t say that I was surprised at receiving it. I’m not surprised by much anymore, unfortunately. I get a lot of ‘fan mail’ and other ‘presents’ due to my role as a school board member. It was obvious that this was not the Maine Green Party or the Belfast public library hosting such an event.”

Ellis said that at first he chuckled about the flyer, but then started thinking about it and decided there was nothing humorous about it.

“It’s not funny — it’s not funny at all,” he said. “Later on that night, more folks had come forward to say they had also received the same flyer. They were sent to people that are playing an active role to help stop racism in our communities. One thing that caught my attention was that another school board member received one. Maybe that was just coincidence.”

Ellis recalled that, when the mascot debate was raging and before the school board took a vote to remove the mascot, he would find subtle threats at the end of his driveway.

One in particular was a bottle with a rag stuck in it which he thought might be a Molotov cocktail. But when he pulled the rag out of the bottle, there was a strong odor of urine and a note attached to the bottle said, “We’re watching you, Ellis.”

He said that, at the time, he had seen and heard so much from people who fought against the removal of the mascot, that he did not feel threatened.

“I just got used to them being bold online and not in real life,” he said.

Ellis maintains people need to “bridge the gaps between the far left and far right and to stem the ‘it’s us against them’ mentality before things escalate. Currently tension keeps increasing and some people are genuinely scared in our community. Like it or not, we’re all in it together. Anyone — regardless of color — anyone is welcome at my house.”

Contacted Tuesday, Lynda Quinn, chairwoman of the SAD 54 Board of Directors, said it was the first she had heard about the flyers.

“It just makes me sad because Skowhegan has moved on, albeit slowly, and we met last Thursday night and we’ve created a procedure, a protocol, on how to proceed on changing the name,” Quinn said.

She said that the procedure will allow everyone — students, parents, community members, staff and anyone who wants to weigh in, either at a school board meeting or through email — to give input about whether they want to have a name and if so, what it should be.

Morrigan Knox McLeod received a flyer at a home in Skowhegan where she moved to six months ago from Norridgewock, but made it a point not to change her mailing address so people would not know how to reach her. Only 10 people in her life — “safe people” — know where she lives, she said.

“I own a home in Norridgewock, but with everything going on in the last six months, I moved to Skowhegan to have more neighbors around,” McLeod said. “I relocated, but my mail is still delivered in Norridgewock and I’ve never received mail in Skowhegan until yesterday.”

McLeod said she was vocal at school board meetings, at rallies and at the state hearings about the mascot, advocating for removing it.

“I don’t think I’m being targeted. I think everyone who has been a proponent of change has been targeted,” she said, adding that she feels badly that the Belfast library was drawn into the fray.

“I’m afraid that they’re going to hurt other communities, not just our own,” she said.

McLeod said she told Skowhegan police about the flyers on Monday and she was told about 100 people had received them. She said she also plans to speak to police Chief David Bucknam and Town Manager Christine Almand as it is something that needs to be addressed.

McLeod said someone fired bullets through her chicken coop earlier this year. She also lost a 20-hour a week job as a consultant to a local business. She does not see herself as a victim, however, as there are others who have suffered a lot more, including indigenous peoples, but she thinks the issue needs to be talked about.

“Honestly, we need to re-educate, in my opinion,” she said. “It’s not a healthy environment we’re in right now. It’s been so gross. I want our community to start healing.”

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