FARMINGTON — Local police say plans are in place to make sure everyone remains safe during a topless march down Main Street on Friday.
The demonstration is designed to promote equality for women to go topless in public and not be harassed, and to make people aware that it is legal in Maine for both men and women to go bare-chested in public.
The march is set to begin at 1 p.m. at Meetinghouse Park, across from the county courthouse, and to continue down Main Street to Abbott Park, just south of Roberts Learning Center at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Lt. Jack Peck of the Farmington Police Department said Thursday he would have extra police around and some on call as a precaution.
“We want to protect all people involved,” Peck said. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Counter-demonstrators also plan to be downtown.
Businesspeople who have establishments along the route say it will be business as usual for them.
“We’re actually treating it as a regular, normal day,” said Melissa Judkins, a clerk at Liquid Sunshine. “We were actually just discussing it. We’re just going to wait and see. It’s very interesting for us. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Sharon Tranten of Tranten’s Market and Jack Anderson of Trask Jewelers agreed that Friday would be business as usual for them.
Director of Support David Leavitt of the Mt. Blue Regional School District said school buses would avoid the downtown area as much as possible. From what he knows of the schedule, Leavitt said, he expects it to be over before kids are on the buses at about 2 p.m. But as a precaution, buses from the middle and high schools will be going down High Street to Anson Street and then hit Main Street to head toward New Vineyard.
March organizer Andrea Simoneau, 22, of Farmington, said she would speak for about five minutes at Meetinghouse Park and lay some ground rules. She‘ll have electrical tape on hand for those who want to cover their nipples, she said.
“I’m still not sure how many people will show up,” she said, but based on the e-mails, letters and phone calls she’s been receiving, there will be quite few.
“I think it will be something to see. That’s for sure,” Simoneau said. “I just hope it’s a safe and fun day for everyone.”
The number of calls complaining about the protest have decreased at the Town Office, though police have been fielding most of them, Town Manager Richard Davis said.
“We’ve had a couple of calls today,” he said. “Hopefully, this thing will come and go without any unfortunate incidents,” Davis said. He’s not planning to attend, he said.
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