AUBURN — State prosecutors are seeking an injunction against a Lewiston man who faces criminal charges after threatening two carloads of people celebrating a Somali wedding, according to court documents.

Nicholas M. Belanger, 19, of 81 Merrill Road, Lewiston, was with two companions when he followed a group of Somali men and women out of McDonald’s restaurant on Lisbon Street at about 3 a.m. on July 26, according to a complaint filed Monday in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

In the parking lot, the celebrants split into three groups and climbed into their respective cars. Belanger and two others got into a red Audi.

Earlier, the celebrants were at a wedding for a Somali couple at the Franco Center in Lewiston.

The drivers of two of the cars with Somali passengers pulled up to the stop sign at the exit of the McDonald’s parking lot and were waiting for the third car in which the groom was riding.

In one of the first two cars was a 26-year-old male driver of Lewiston and four female passengers, all students at Lewiston High School who ranged in age from 15 to 18. In the second car were a 24-year-old driver from Syracuse, N.Y., two passengers from Lewiston and one passanger from Louisville, Ky.


Belanger pulled the Audi alongside the two cars and told the drivers to, “Move your car! Or else I’ll get a shotgun!” according to the complaint.

The two cars drove away in the direction of downtown Lewiston. Belanger followed in the Audi and sped in their direction. When the two cars carrying the Somali wedding party stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of Lisbon Street and East Avenue, Belanger pulled up next to them in the Audi and yelled that he was going to, “f—— kill” them. Then he yelled, “You guys need to get out of this country” and “Go back to where you belong.” He said, “Go back to your country,” and “We don’t like you, especially your kind.”

Belanger brandished a knife and motioned toward the other cars.

When the light turned green, the victims moved forward. Belanger sped ahead, then turned around and drove toward one of the cars, causing the driver to brake to avoid a collision, according to the complaint. Belanger’s car blocked the victims’ car from continuing on Lisbon Street.

One of that car’s passengers called 911, then exited the car and ran across the street to a gas station because she was afraid Belanger’s car was going to collide with the car she was riding in.

Belanger exited his car, still brandishing a knife. He talked about getting a shotgun and opened his truck, according to the complaint.


The victims exited their cars and told Belanger they had called 911. Belanger got back into his car and drove away as police began to arrive at the scene.

Belanger was indicted last month by an Androscoggin County grand jury on three counts stemming from the incident: criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and driving to endanger. The first two charges are Class C felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison. The third charge is a Class E misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.

He pleaded not guilty to the three charges earlier this month.

Verne Paradie, attorney for Belanger, responded Monday to the charges and civil complaint.

“Mr. Belanger was not the aggressor in this situation,” Paradie said. “He was the one confronted and outnumbered by a group of individuals that threatened his safety. This was not in any way a hate crime but rather an unfortunate situation where Mr. Belanger was the one that was threatened and intimidated by a large group of individuals.”

The state is seeking a preliminary injunction against Belanger under the Maine Civil Rights Act that would bar him from:


* Threatening or using physical force or violence against the victims or any members of their families or their property;

* Threatening or using physical force or violence against any person because of national origin (or other protected statuses under the Maine Civil Rights Act);

* Destroying, damaging or trespassing on the property of anybody or their place of worship because of protected statuses;

* Harassing, intimidating, speaking to, telephoning or otherwise communicating with the victims or their families;

* Knowingly coming within 150 feet of their homes or workplaces, or encouraging or causing any other person to engage in such conduct.

Prosecutors are seeking to have a judge order Belanger to pay civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation, plus attorney fees to the state.


If the judge were to order a motion for a preliminary injunction and Belanger were to violate any of the terms, he could be charged with a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail.

Prosecutors also are seeking a permanent injunction against Belanger.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said Monday there had been a number of national origin bias incidents in Portland last year, but none in Lewiston, where there is a significant Somali population.

“It seemed like there was this explosion of anti-Islamic sentiment in Portland and it seemed odd to us that if that’s happening in Portland, that in the Lewiston-Auburn area, maybe everybody after the initial resistance to the newcomers . . . everything was fine,” Robbin said.

In Portland, there were two attacks on Somali cab drivers and a man who threatened a 13-year-old Somali girl who wore a hijab. Robbin said these incidents appeared to coincide with the rise of the so-called Islamic State.

She said the wedding party members were wearing tuxedos and dresses.

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