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Deer Isle Residents Protest Racism After Noose Found Hanging From Utility Line

Susan Sharon
Maine Public
Anti-racism demonstrators take to the main street of tiny Deer Isle, Maine to protest after a noose was found hanging from a utility line.

More than 120 people of all ages turned out in the tiny town of Deer Isle Sunday for a peaceful, anti-racism gathering, after a noose was found hanging from a utility line and several Black Lives Matter signs were vandalized. A large "White Lives Matter" sign was also posted less than a mile away on Juneteenth, the day that officially marks emancipation of the slaves. 

Credit Courtesy Mina Mattes / via Bangor Daily News
via Bangor Daily News
A noose hangs from a utility pole in Deer Isle Saturday. The noose has since been removed.

Mina Mattes says she helped plan Sunday's gathering along the town's main street to show solidarity with Black community organizers, who she says are engaged in difficult work around the country.

"Just because we're a majority, white community doesn't mean that that work shouldn't be happening here," Mattes says. "White supremacy is a white problem and it's our job to dismantle it.  So,  I'm glad to see so many people today who are ready to learn and ready to work and ready to make our community a better place."

River Perkin of Brewer is originally from Deer Isle, which has a population of less than 2,000. Perkin was angered by the show of hate in the rural, almost exclusively white Maine town.

"No one should have to experience that," Perkin says. "It's disgusting that our government does it and our police force does it and that our citizens do it. Black people are persecuted from every side and I'm here to uplift Black voices. Like, this is what this is about."

Credit Susan Sharon / Maine Public
Maine Public
Anti-racism protesters rally Sunday in Deer Isle, after a noose was found earlier hanging for a utility line in the tiny Maine town.

Perkin's friend, Davy Fridell, wore a black dress she created to express her outrage at police violence. "On my dress I have painted the names of Black Americans who have been killed at the hands of police violence.  There are a thousand names and I fit close to 20 of them on this dress, and that is why we're here today."

Fridell said she was pleased about the turnout in her hometown but she says it is more important for people to change their spending and other habits to support people of color.

Organizers had planned a gathering even before the Juneteeenth incident. But Riley Solter of Harborside said that the show of hate required a response.

"You know, sometimes you look at these things that are happening across the country and you think, 'Oh, it's not part of - we're remote from it.' It really doesn't happen here. This is kind of a nice, friendly place.  And, in fact, that's not the case, sadly. And it's important to show this is a national movement and this is not confined to big, elite coastal cities. This happens all over the country."

Several of those who turned out for the gathering say the noose and its association with the lynchings of Black people have motivated them to do more to support racial equality and justice.  Police are investigating the incident.