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Politics

Belfast Event Shows Extremism Is Gaining Traction In Maine

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Lauren Abbate
/
BDN
Attendees of the Arise USA event at the Crosby Center Tuesday night collected signatures for a proposed audit of the 2020 election in Maine.

A Tuesday night event in Belfast showed how a union of COVID-19 denialism and far-right extremism has been growing in Maine and gaining legitimacy, with politicians embracing those ideologies.

The “Arise USA! Resurrection Tour” that stopped at the Crosby Center was billed as promoting “faith, family and freedom” to its 150 attendees. Speakers included conspiracist Robert David Steele, retired Yarmouth gynecologist Christiane Northrup — who has become one of the nation’s leading spreaders of COVID-19 conspiracy theories — and Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association founder Richard Mack, who appeared via Zoom.

Mack is a former Arizona sheriff who believes that county sheriffs’ authority overrides federal law. Steele has spoken about his admiration for Holocaust deniers and embraced false theories, such as one stating that NASA runs a child slavery colony on Mars.

In addition, Rep. Heidi Sampson, R-Alfred, spoke about the need for a “forensic audit” of Maine election results, feeding into unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential race. Witnesses noticed at least two other Republican state representatives in attendance. One did not respond to a message Wednesday and the other declined to comment.

Karyn Sporer, a University of Maine sociologist and principal investigator for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology and Education Center, said that the fact that politicians now lend credence to such extremist views is “alarming”.

“Extremists have always had a foothold in Maine, period,” Sporer said, citing the Ku Klux Klan’s presence in the state in the 1920s. The major difference between 10 years ago and now is that people feel emboldened to share racist or extremist thoughts.

A Tuesday night event in Belfast showed how a union of COVID-19 denialism and far-right extremism has been growing in Maine and gaining legitimacy, with politicians embracing those ideologies.

The “Arise USA! Resurrection Tour” that stopped at the Crosby Center was billed as promoting “faith, family and freedom” to its 150 attendees. Speakers included conspiracist Robert David Steele, retired Yarmouth gynecologist Christiane Northrup — who has become one of the nation’s leading spreaders of COVID-19 conspiracy theories — and Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association founder Richard Mack, who appeared via Zoom.

Mack is a former Arizona sheriff who believes that county sheriffs’ authority overrides federal law. Steele has spoken about his admiration for Holocaust deniers and embraced false theories, such as one stating that NASA runs a child slavery colony on Mars.

In addition, Rep. Heidi Sampson, R-Alfred, spoke about the need for a “forensic audit” of Maine election results, feeding into unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential race. Witnesses noticed at least two other Republican state representatives in attendance. One did not respond to a message Wednesday and the other declined to comment.

Karyn Sporer, a University of Maine sociologist and principal investigator for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology and Education Center, said that the fact that politicians now lend credence to such extremist views is “alarming."

“Extremists have always had a foothold in Maine, period,” Sporer said, citing the Ku Klux Klan’s presence in the state in the 1920s. The major difference between 10 years ago and now is that people feel emboldened to share racist or extremist thoughts.

This story appears through a media partnership with the Bangor Daily News.