The Penobscot Bay Pilot of Maine reports that last Friday, March 27, 2020, at approximately 3:35 p.m., a man used a VHF radio system to hail the Coast Guard for assistance at a residence in the area of Cripple Creek Road on Vinalhaven, an island town in the Gulf of Maine.
According to a March 28 news release from the Knox County Sheriffs’ Office in Rockland, ME, the man reported that several people with guns had cut down a tree, blocking the road to his home, and were telling them that they need to be quarantined. The press release said:
While investigating the downed tree, a neighbor started yelling at him and a group of people showed up and began to gather around. Believing the group may be there to harm him, fled to his residence and told his roommates what he had found. The trio decided to stay put in the residence, utilized a VHF radio to hail the Coast Guard for assistance, they had no other means of communication, and utilized their drone to keep an eye on the group until law enforcement could arrive to help them.
Deputies, along with members of the Maine Marine Patrol and a Coast Guard boarding party, made contact with the complainant and discovered that a tree had in fact been cut down and dragged into the driveway to block the way. The vigilante group had dispersed prior to law enforcement’s arrival.
The press release continues:
Deputies have learned that there is a general belief by some island residents that the Cripple Creek residents are supposed to be quarantined because they came here from another state [New Jersey] and could have COVID-19. Deputies did investigate this and learned that the trio had been residing on Vinalhaven for about 30 days, which is outside of the guidance issued by state officials, and none have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Knox County Sheriff’s Office says:
“We want to bring to the public’s attention the matter of restricting a person’s movements within the state. Whether someone is a Maine resident or not, they have the right to free movement and anyone who infringes upon that free movement is potentially violating the law.
If you are concerned about someone potentially being infected or not following the emergency rules or recommendations, please contact us. We want everyone to be informed about COVID-19 and the rules around it. We also want everyone to be safe and not overreact in this time of uncertainty as it could end poorly.”
There are two guys from NJ on Vinalhaven who have been renting a house since September while working on a construction job. They went to the mainland, and were targeted because of their license plate when they arrived back on Vinalhaven.
There were words between them and some locals, and the conversation apparently didn’t go very well. A group of local vigilantes decided to take matters into their own hands, and barricade these guys into their rental property. Marine Patrol and the USCG responded, along with Knox Co Sheriff’s Dept.
THIS IS A TREMENDOUS WASTE OF RESOURCES.
Now is not the time to develop or encourage an “us vs. them” mentality. Targeting people because of their license plates will not serve any of us well. Every person, whether local or from away, who leaves the island and comes back puts their community at risk.
Except for in the most extreme circumstances, we do not have the authority to control the movement of US citizens within our borders, and frankly, I’m concerned about the number of people who are eager to hand their rights over to the government.
Note: According to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the Wuhan virus and COVID-19, as of last night, New Jersey had 16,636 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 198 deaths, while Maine had 275 confirmed cases and 3 deaths.