Last week, Scott Hall, an activist in Maine, was erasing hate speech put up in a local town square by an anti-LGBTQ Christian ministry. Sure, that ministry had a First Amendment right to chalk the ground with messages saying things like “REPENT,” but Hall also had the right to take them down.
And yet as both groups were doing their thing, it was only Hall who was stopped by local police and given a no-trespassing order, banning him from stepping foot in that location for a full year.
He took video of their encounter:
That interaction led to all kinds of pushback online, but the Bangor Police Department defended Officers Jarid Leonard and Ryan Jones, accusing Hall of harassing the preacher. Hall denied that completely.
Now, after all the backlash, the police are finally reversing course. They posted a message yesterday basically saying Hall never should have been punished for what he did and that his trespassing charge would be rescinded.
… It is not the City’s policy to issue no-trespass orders against citizens engaged in peaceful protest. The City Manager and Police Department are duty bound to uphold the constitutional rights of free speech for all members of the community, even those whose speech some may not like. Such protection has long been the position of the City Council, and the Community at large.
… Based upon further investigation into the August 7, 2020 incident, the City has decided to rescind the no-trespass order that was issued to the involved party. The rescission is effective immediately.
There’s no word on whether those cops were punished in any way, nor is there any apology to Hall. The police said the officers “acted reasonably based upon the information that they had at the time” — which makes no sense if you’re watching the video.
Hall told me he got what he was asking for in the reversal, but he also took notice of the lack of apology, which he said means “the police are leaving open the possibility of this happening again.” Hard to disagree with that.