Republican Senator Olympia Snowe’s office in Bangor has been “very, very bad,” says Gagnon. “The chief of staff ... slams the door in your face, won’t even let you get in.” In September 2006, 11 people were arrested there during a sit-in. Snowe’s Bangor office is not in a federal building.
At Second District Democratic Representative Mike Michaud’s Bangor office on September 26, the staff was so polite and welcoming to anti-war demonstrators, that the protestors “decided not to sit-in his office,” Gagnon says. “They felt they were having a real dialogue.”
Allen’s efforts to avoid speaking with protestors are extensive: those arrested in February were warned that Allen’s staff would have them arrested again if they returned to the building within a year. The protestors objected, saying that prevented them from having access to their elected congressman, and the warning was retracted, according to Kathe Chipman, who was arrested on February 21 and again on September 25.
Chipman, a retired art-and-architecture librarian, chose not to pay a $40 bail commissioner’s fee on September 25, and stayed in jail overnight because, she says, “I believe that sitting on the floor of an office paid for by taxpayers beyond closing time is not a criminal trespass but rather a purposeful presence, one that is the opposite of ‘criminal,’ since the sole goal is to effect honest adherence to the Constitution of the United States.” She was released without being charged the following day.
None of the February protestors at Allen’s office was charged with a crime, says Portland lawyer John Branson, who has represented people arrested at both February events. And Branson doubts the eight arrested September 25 will be charged, though prosecutors have reserved the right to do so.
“It’s a political decision,” says Branson. “This Republican district attorney [Stephanie Anderson] has essentially done a favor for this Democratic member of Congress by making the story go away very quickly” by not charging those arrested at his office. With Allen challenging Collins, Branson wondered aloud how long Anderson’s favors would continue.
On the Web
Video of protest: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=maineactivist | http://www.youtube.com/user/patriciaWheeler