The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is investigating another act of vandalism against one of the victims of an incident on Vinalhaven in which people cut down a tree in an effort to force visitors from another state to self-quarantine.

The investigation comes as police are stepping in as out-of-state visitors have been the target of harassment, threats, and vandalism by some local residents worried about the spread of COVID-19. Maine State Police issued a statement Wednesday warning that it’s unacceptable to confront people from other states over concerns about COVID-19.

Also Friday, Maine businesswoman Linda Bean issued a statement in response to Facebook posts that claimed she was renting out cottages to New Yorkers fleeing the pandemic in their home state.

The tension on Vinalhaven has attracted the most attention.

On March 27, several people cut down a tree and blocked the road to a home on the island. When one of the people from the home went to check why cable service was out, he found the tree. A neighbor started yelling at him and a group of people showed up and began to gather around the man who retreated to the residence and called for aid.

The tree was cut to force the people in the home to self quarantine. The people were from outside Maine but had been here for more than 30 days.

No one has been charged in that incident.

And this week, one of those three people who had been at the residence, had his windshield broken out while parked at the Maine State Ferry Terminal.

That also remains under investigation.

District Attorney Natash Irving said in the Vinalhaven incident, others came to help.

“We must always remember in times like these that there so many more of us here to help than us here to hurt. We are actively investigating this crime, and actions such as these will not be tolerated,” Irving said. “We are all worried about our health, and the health of our loved ones, and we are all learning how to live through this without a frame of reference. Worry and fear can make us do things we wouldn’t ordinarily, but please remember that law enforcement is here to help keep us safe, and that if you are worried about someone not following the orders meant to keep us safe, call your local police and we can help. This virus has changed so much about how we live, but we cannot let it change who we are and what we stand for.”

Linda Bean issued a statement Friday in response to Facebook posts that she was renting out cottages earlier than normal to New Yorkers fleeing the pandemic in their out-of-state communities.

“There is some misinformation on local Facebook pages about St George rentals being leased untimely to New Yorkers who may be here to escape the coronavirus pandemic that has hit their home state. There is stated fear that out-of-staters coming here right now add to our personal and family health risk. We understand that fear,” the message says.

“As a matter of clarity, please know that housing offered as a business, as defined by the governor, is a category permitted by state law at this time. We are electing not to enable any new rentals. In honoring any pre-existing reservations before the virus, we have nonetheless vigorously encouraged cancellation with a full refund. We do not have any new guests arriving until further notice,” the Bean statement states.

“Our staff is as concerned as any community member about the continuing good health of all around us here in St. George. We are community friends, neighbors, and relatives. We interact year after year in a small, intimate community. To be clear, in response to CDC guidance and Governor Mills’ orders, we have suspended new leases, and our properties are unavailable until further notice, in compliance with federal, state and local authority,” the statement concludes.

In regard to harassment of people with out-of-state license plates, state police said it advises Maine residents that if they have concerns to contact local or State Police.

“Some of these vehicles are likely to be operated by people who are working here in the state,” according to a message posted by state police. “There have been reports of CMP employees verbally accosted about why they have out of state plates on their vehicles, even though there are CMP logos on them. All utility workers are considered essential,” according to state police/

“There are many reasons for people to have out of state plates on their vehicles, such as temporary essential workers, car rentals, military personnel and traveling nurses,” the message said. “While we appreciate this is a time of high anxiety, confronting those with non-Maine license plates is unacceptable and residents with concerns should contact Maine law enforcement. Please exercise restraint and common sense during this time of tension. We want everyone to stay safe and stay healthy,” the statement concludes.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills has advised people — including out-of-state people — to remain where they are and not to travel unnecessarily. And state health officials have recommended that people coming from areas where there are high incidents to self quarantine for 14 days.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.