Federal judge denies activist’s challenge to Guilford road closings for Trump’s visit
A federal judge on Friday denied an activist’s attempt to keep the U.S. Secret Service and Maine law enforcement from shutting down roads in Guilford during President Donald Trump’s visit to a medical swab manufacturing plant.
U.S. District Judge Lance Walker, a Trump appointee, tossed out a motion for a temporary restraining order filed after business hours Thursday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
“Because the available evidence does not demonstrate that [law enforcement’s] efforts to prepare for the president’s visit will prevent reasonable vehicular access to the town (as opposed to through the town), let alone reasonable pedestrian movement and assembly in downtown Guilford, plaintiff’s Motion is denied,” the judge wrote.
The lawsuit claimed that all the roads into Guilford would be shut down for the president’s visit and prevent the racial justice community organizer from being able to express his political views opposing Trump’s recent statements and policies on “silencing dissent and police misconduct.”
Piscataquis County Sheriff Robet Young announced Thursday that Elm Street, which is part of state Routes 6, 15 and 16 heading north, would remain open, but North Main and School streets would be closed to pedestrians and traffic. He also said that Blaine Avenue, also known as Route 150 north, would be closed to parking and pedestrians.
The road closures were planned for the president’s arrival at the Puritan Medical Products facility in the downtown area, where he will take an afternoon tour and give remarks after likely arriving by helicopter from the Bangor International Airport.
Walker grew up in Milo and Dover-Foxcroft so most likely is familiar with the roads in and out of Guilford.
Khalif Williams, a racial justice organizer from Blue Hill who planned to travel to the Piscataquis County town to protest the president, claimed the plan to secure roads in Guilford violated his constitutional rights to free speech, assembly and equal protection under federal law.
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His attorney, Logan Perkins of Belfast, argued that Trump supporters were already in the area and planning a demonstration as he arrives in town. Williams said that he wants the same level of access to appear near Puritan and the president’s motorcade to use “signs, banners, or expressive clothing” to make his anti-Trump view known.
The lawsuit asked Walker to declare the road closure plan unlawful and allow access to the area. The Secret Service, the Piscataquis County sheriff and the Maine Department of Public Safety commissioner were named as defendants.
Large anti-Trump protests are not expected in the Guilford area. Organizers of a Bangor protest have urged people to avoid the area because of its small size, fear of spreading coronavirus in a county with only one documented case so far and potential confrontations with Trump backers.
Shutting down roads traveled on by the president is standard operating procedure for the Secret Service, though they often allow people to congregate along the sides of the route as long as they people stay away from the street.