AUGUSTA — A Black Lives Matter protest that could draw hundreds to the streets outside the State House is planned for Sunday.

A Facebook event for the protest shows more than 2,100 respondents either marked as “going” or “interested.”

The event page states the protesters will begin at the State House before marching past the Augusta Police Station. There, across the street from the police station, protesters will create “a memorial on the lawn.”

Protesters are then expected to return to the State House to hear speakers.

The event page also instructs people attending to not obstruct entrances to buildings or traffic, to wear mask or other facial covering and black attire and to bring signs and “your voice.”

Co-organizer Jordan Snell, 18, of Gardiner said Tuesday she and co-organizer Yasmine Wadleigh would provide a statement about the event, but one was not available Thursday.

“We chose a statement instead because we’ve seen other protests doing statements (and) because we don’t want our words twisted in any way,” Snell said. “This is going to be positive, and we want this to be as peaceful as possible.”

Snell wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday the group was initially seeking to gather at Capitol Park, but could not obtain a permit to do so.

“We are not gathering at Capitol Park anymore because at the moment we can not obtain any sort of permit during COVID-19,” she wrote. “This is due to the executive order from Governor Mills to only allow 50 people to gather outside, social distancing, and wearing a mask if medically able.”

Snell’s post said the organizers’ goals are “to let the State House hear our pleads for justice in Minnesota and to let the oppressed be heard.”

Across the country, similar groups are protesting the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died May 25 when a white Minneapolis police officer pinned Floyd to the ground and pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

In Portland, more than 1,000 people gathered Monday in the city’s streets to protest institutional racism and violence by police against people of color.

While the protest was largely peaceful, 23 people were arrested for failing to disperse, and the Urban Outfitters clothing store was burglarized that night. Another 1,000 people turned out in Portland on Wednesday night, the fifth protest in six days in the city.

Snell, referencing other protests around the country that have seen looting and violence, said: “We don’t want the protesters to be seen as rioters. We’re still very concerned because we don’t want that to happen in any way.”

Augusta Police Chief Jared Mills said the event’s organizers have been “very responsible in reaching out to us and providing us with information” about the event.

He said city police will partner with Maine State Police, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, Capitol Police and other area departments to provide security at the event.

“We already have all of our partners at the table,” Mills said, “and we will meet regularly until the event to coordinate a safe execution.”

Sunday’s protest planned for Augusta is one of at least two expected to take place that day in central Maine. A “solidarity march” is also planned for downtown Waterville, beginning at noon at The Concourse parking lot.

Mills said he did not feel his officers and department are being targeted by Sunday’s planned protest in Augusta. Instead, the chief said he felt his department was involved because “law enforcement is connected throughout the country.”

“Unfortunately, when bad things happen, like they did in Minnesota, we can’t help but be part of that,” he said. “We’re a symbol of law enforcement, and we’re in the capital city.”

Mills said he did not expect violence or other unrest at Sunday’s protest. Should any arise, however, he said his department has trained for such situations.

He said there are “two groups” involved in the protests around the country: Those who are organized and peacefully protesting, and those who are “totally separate” and likely to participate in looting and rioting.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.