On Monday, liberal protesters organized by the AFL-CIO staged a stunt to get themselves thrown in jail for media attention. Five people staged a sit-in inside a district office for Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in Bangor and refused to leave, even when the building would close after business hours. They were arrested for trespassing.
“You are occupying the premises unlawfully and without permission and in violation of trespass. I am ordering you to leave the premises. If you do not leave, you will be arrested,” Bangor Police Department Sgt. Myron Warner said in a video one of the protesters filmed.
“Not leaving until Collins meets with us and agrees to stand up for the working class,” Sarah Bigney, a staff member at the Maine branch of the AFL-CIO, tweeted in defiance after police told her to leave.
Police have notified us that if we don’t leave at 5pm , we will be charged with trespass and arrested. #mepolitics #GOPtaxscam.
Not leaving until Collins meets with us and agrees to stand up for the working class
— Sarah Bigney (@sarahBMaine) December 4, 2017
Refusing to leave, the five were escorted into police vehicles and booked at the Penobscot County Jail. Released on bail, the group took a photo to glory in their act of protest.
We were arrested by @BANGORPOLICE, booked at Penobscot Co Jail, and released on bail. Our economy is rigged against working people and the #GOPTaxScam will make it much worse. We call on @SenatorCollins to oppose it. Thanks for the support! #mepolitics @erinrn01 pic.twitter.com/IkbIK15phW
— Sarah Bigney (@sarahBMaine) December 5, 2017
“We are staying until we talk to Senator Collins by phone or in person unless we are arrested,” 66-year old Jim Betts, a protester, said shortly before the office closed at 5 p.m.
In addition to Betts and Bigney, three others were arrested: Erin Oberson, a nurse at Eastern Maine Medical Center; Nick Paquet, and electrician; and Tina Davidson, a military veteran and disability activist.
Collins was in Washington, D.C., at the time of the sit-in and did not communicate with protesters. Staff did speak with them, however, and the senator later responded in a statement.
“I always welcome hearing the views of my constituents,” Collins said in a statement after the protest. “This is an opportunity for me to let them know that a single mom with one child earning $35,000 would receive $1,100 back from the government, rather than owing income tax, which would certainly be helpful to her in making ends meet. In addition, under the Senate bill, a family with an income of $24,000 would no longer pay income tax.”
In her statement, Collins also mentioned ways in which the GOP tax bill would help seniors, firefighters, teachers, and police officers.
— Ashley Paul (@AshleyPaulTV) December 5, 2017
The only major mistake Collins’ staff seem to have made in the situation was screaming at local police. Bigney tweeted that she and her fellow protesters could “hear the DC staff of Senator Collins screaming at local police over the speaker phone in the back office, arguing about what to do with us. Don’t want a bad news cycle?”
Congressmen and senators often field complaints through staff, as lawmakers are constantly busy with a wide range of concerns. They will meet with constituents when their schedules permit, but the protesters must have known Collins was in D.C. at the time. Perhaps a phone call would have been wise, but protesters were staging events across Maine and Collins has a busy schedule in D.C.
Constituents have a right to be heard by their representatives, but they do not have a right to trespass. Insisting on remaining in an office after closing time is trespassing, and it seems the protesters got their wish when police arrested them and brought them to jail.
This incident seems eerily similar to the ugly attacks launched against Sen. John McCain (R-Arix.) for his vote supporting the tax bill. Many who had praised McCain for refusing to vote for the GOP healthcare bill wished the senator would die painfully for his tax reform vote.
This union-organized stunt merely illustrates that no Republican should try to win over these crazed liberal protesters. They will turn against you at the drop of a hat.
Collins did her duty in responding, but Maine likely has not heard the end of this protest.
Click “Load More” to watch the protesters’ video.
Live from our occupation of Senator Collins’ Bangor Office until she agrees to oppose the #GOPtaxscam
Posted by Sarah Bigney on Monday, December 4, 2017