Leaders of the Freeport Town Council released a statement condemning bigotry and racism Tuesday following news that a local man was charged with violating the civil rights of a Black man in town.

According to a report by the Portland Press Herald, Attorney General Aaron Frey announced Friday that he filed a complaint in the Cumberland County Superior Court under the Maine Civil Rights Act against William Rowe, 61, who allegedly confronted a man with a gun after he dined with a white woman at Antonia’s Pizzeria in Freeport on Nov. 30, 2021.

The complaint alleges that Rowe targeted the 39-year-old man based on his race or color, the Press Herald reported.

“It has recently been reported that a Black man was allegedly threatened here in Freeport based on his race or color. This is intolerable and has no place in our town,” read a joint statement from Freeport Town Council Chair Dan Piltch and Vice-Chair John Egan. “We wholeheartedly condemn any attempt to intimidate, threaten or otherwise harm someone based on their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, disability or sexual orientation. Our town contains tolerant individuals who are accepting and welcoming towards residents and visitors of all kinds. When we uncover racism, we will continue to act swiftly and morally to bring justice and prevent any further instances from occurring. Everyone who sets foot in Freeport, as a resident or as a visitor, deserves to be treated with respect and fairness.”

According to the statement, the Freeport Police Department “acted promptly and thoroughly to investigate the incident” and worked with prosecutors at the county and state level to initiate filing the charges.

“Our law enforcement officers share our belief that Freeport should be a safe place for all, and continue to work diligently in support of this goal,” wrote Piltch and Egan

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“While we may like to imagine that our town is free of racism and other hate crimes, times like these remind us that there is still work to be done. We need to continue to educate, enlighten and empower our neighbors to speak out against racism, and to speak up when it rears its head.”

The complaint alleges that the man was seated in his vehicle in the pizzeria parking lot when Rowe confronted him with the barrel of semi-automatic pistol visible under his left armpit. When Rowe turned away, the barrel pointed in the direction of the man.

In addition, the Frey’s complaint alleges that the incident was filmed by the man, and Rowe leaned over the window of the car, stating, “Something stinks. You got it?” and then later adding, “Freeport, Maine, baby. We don’t do this (expletive) in Freeport, Maine.”

The Cumberland County District Attorneys Office has also filed a criminal complaint against Rowe for Criminal Threatening with a Dangerous Weapon, Threatening Display of a Weapon and Criminal Mischief, according to a statement from the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

Rowe’s initial appearance is set for Feb. 22.

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