The sheriff of Piscataquis County is asking President Trump’s opponents and supporters in Maine to voice their views peacefully Friday when the president visits a medical supplies factory in the rural town of Guilford.

Few new details emerged Tuesday about Trump’s planned tour of the Puritan Medical Products facility that produces swabs used in coronavirus tests. The White House did not release additional information, and the office of Gov. Janet Mills did not respond to several requests for comment or make Mills available for an interview, one day after she raised security concerns about the presidential visit at a time of violent protests and political unrest nationwide.

Piscataquis County Sheriff Robert Young, however, said in a post on Facebook that he hopes “folks will let the employees of Hardwood Products/Puritan Medical Products have their moment of recognition, as the President, on behalf of the nation, expresses our collective thanks.”

“In ordinary times, a Presidential visit to Guilford, Maine would be a great thing, regardless of who the President is,” Young wrote. “Sadly, at this time, our nation is so full of strife and rancor, that the good nature of his coming is overshadowed by the politics of our time.”

Trump’s trip to Guilford on Friday is the latest in a series of visits to U.S. manufacturers producing protective gear, testing equipment and medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. Puritan Medical Products received a $75.5 million federal grant to double its swab production – from 20 million to 40 million units monthly – to help expand COVID-19 testing capacity nationwide.

At least one rally, dubbed a “Guilford, Maine Peaceful Protest for Black Lives Matter” was being promoted on Facebook and had drawn “interest” from more than 1,700 people as of Tuesday evening. Organizers of the event did not respond to messages seeking to be interviews about the event.


The president’s supporters, meanwhile, were using social media to urge others to “to line every street he drives on.”

Young wrote that he has been in contact with the protest organizers and “their motives and intent are good, they want to speak for social change and are heartbroken by what they see happening to their country.”

“They desire the protest to be peaceful, and I believe they will do all they can to keep it so,” Young said. “I’m asking those who oppose the protest to do so peacefully as well. Violence generally begets violence, and is never going to solve the issues of our land.”

Young also expressed shock and dismay at the Minneapolis police officer’s actions, adding that, “In Piscataquis County we don’t use those tactics.” Young declined to comment beyond his Facebook post.

The nation has been on edge since video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, who had been detained on minor charges. Floyd repeatedly told the officers that he couldn’t breathe before losing consciousness and dying. That officer has since been charged with murder.

While the majority of ensuing protests nationwide have been peaceful, some have turned violent as police clashed with rioters damaged properties and looted businesses. Those mass gatherings come at a time when the nation is in the midst of a highly infectious viral pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 people.


Portland police dressed in riot gear and using pepper spray arrested 23 people late Monday night and early Tuesday morning after hundreds of protesters refused to disperse. Trump’s words and actions Monday night heightened tensions as he threatened to send the military units into states and then staged a photo op outside of a church near the White House moments after law enforcement used tear gas and flash grenades to clear a crowd of peaceful protesters.

On Monday evening Mills expressed concerns about Trump’s planned visit to Maine following an earlier conference calls in which he accused governors of being “weak” on violent protests and urged them to use force to “dominate” the streets.

“I ask that when you arrive here, you rise above the language that I heard this morning,” Mills said. “I ask that you check the rhetoric at the door and abandon the divisive language that sows the seeds of distrust among our people.”

Mills made those comments roughly 90 minutes before television networks broadcast live images of officers aggressively clearing the park in front of the White House. Mills’ office did not respond to comments Tuesday about the president’s vow to send the military into states that failed to quell violent protests.

This will be Trump’s first visit to Maine since taking office in 2017, but it might not be his last this year. Some critics view the trip as a campaign event as his supporters attempt to repeat his 2016 performance when he picked up one of Maine’s four Electoral College votes by winning the 2nd Congressional District.

Dover-Foxcroft Police Chief Ryan Reardon said it was clear to him that Floyd was “murdered” by the officer in Minneapolis and should have been arrested immediately. Reardon added that he believes “every law enforcement officer in Piscataquis County agrees with the sentiment.”

But Reardon, whose officers will likely be called upon to assist with security on Friday, said for any U.S. president to come to Guilford — located in one of the poorest counties east of the Mississippi River — is “kind of a big deal.” So Reardon said he hopes others who come to town Friday will “express your opinion, but do it peacefully” while allowing the larger focus to be on Puritan employees’ vital contribution to the nation’s coronavirus response.

“I’m really hoping this is a peaceful gathering and a peaceful event, that the president can tour this very nice facility and let the people have pride in their jobs,” Reardon said.

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