Members of the MA Pride group from Monmouth Academy march in the Hallowell Pride 2024 parade on June 1. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel file

HALLOWELL — Mayor George LaPointe has apologized for criticizing the “militancy” of the Hallowell Pride Alliance in secretly-recorded comments that were posted recently on social media.

Hallowell Mayor George Lapointe Screenshot via Zoom

The comments drew sharp rebukes, with some longtime residents and members of the LGBTQ+ community saying they feel the mayor’s comments and responses to them have left them feeling less safe and welcome in the city.

Reached Tuesday, LaPointe said he regrets the words he used in the recorded conversation.

“I regret the way I portrayed the pride community as militant,” LaPointe said. “In thinking about that, clearly they do good work for the town and people in the pride community. The way they advocate for some things, it’s hard to deal with. I think that’s why I made the comments.”

Board members of Hallowell Pride Alliance, a volunteer group which celebrates Hallowell and its LGBTQ+ community, responded to the mayor’s comments with two letters, noting the situation and the city’s lacking response to it has left them in fear.

“In your call, there is talk of people being afraid that if they speak up (against rainbow flags and crosswalks) they will get attacked on social media,” states a letter from the Hallowell Pride Alliance to LaPointe. “It seems you need to be reminded of the long-standing violence against the LGBTQ+ community. … So, if we respond with assertions that seem unfitting to you, please, remember we are concerned not just about social media attacks but actual physical attacks.”


A phone conversation LaPointe had with a man who identified himself only as “Tom” and who claimed to be a business owner in Hallowell was recorded and posted on the man’s Twitter page, which contained other posts that criticized “leftists,” displays of the Pride flag, accommodations for immigrants, and crosswalks being painted in Pride colors.

The man, later identified by City Manager Gary Lamb as Richard Coffron, complained to LaPointe that he and others felt the proliferation of gay pride images in Hallowell was overdone and they didn’t feel they could speak out against that for fear they’d be criticized and called homophobic.

LaPointe responded in part by saying: “I certainly, when I was running (for mayor) last year, (there was) the same kind of thing. ‘If you’re not for everything we believe in, then you’re not with us. Umm, you know, obviously, the town of Hallowell prides itself in its diversity. And we want to continue that, because that is a selling card. And one of the things I noticed, last year, and I’m not going to say this publicly, but the Pride Alliance kind of went from advocacy to militancy.”

LaPointe also said, in the May phone conversation, that “because of a couple changes in membership (of Hallowell City Council), the way we’re dealing with these issues is better this year than even last year.”

Mayor George Lapointe holds a sign during the Hallowell United Rally in September 2023 at Granite City Park. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

In a June apology letter that LaPointe sent to city staff and officials and the Hallowell Pride Alliance, he wrote that while he admitted “to feeling that way last year when I was running for reelection, but it was an entirely inappropriate comment. I am sickened that I played into the hand of a caller who appears to be from an anti-LGBTQ+ group. I want to apologize to the Hallowell Pride Alliance, City Council, city staff, and Hallowell residents for this hurtful transgression because I truly believe Hallowell is better for our progressive citizenry and our policies embracing and promoting diversity and inclusion.”

At a June 10 Hallowell City Council meeting, about a dozen residents expressed disappointment in LaPointe’s hurtful comments, which some said gave a voice to hateful extremism.


Longtime resident and business owner Bruce Mayo recounted past incidents of hate crimes in Hallowell, despite its longstanding reputation as a welcoming city, including when he was attacked in the 1990s and strangled so hard he passed out and the vessels in his eyeballs popped.

“So when I hear stuff like this, I don’t want to go back to that,” Mayo said at the June 10 meeting. “I feel like I’m sort of the papa bear to my business and I want everyone to be safe there. And this week I didn’t feel safe.”

While many spoke against the mayor’s comments, none called for his resignation, and several commenters said they don’t think he is anti-gay and they see him as an ally.

Several residents, and LaPointe himself, suggested a public community forum could be helpful, to discuss the situation and what could be done to ensure Hallowell is a welcoming community. LaPointe said he plans to speak with some friends about organizing such an event.

City Manager Gary Lamb declined to answer questions this week about the issue.

Emily Bourque, secretary of Hallowell Pride Alliance, said the June apology letter to the city and alliance is the only direct communication the board has received from LaPointe. She expressed concern that Lamb, after the mayor’s comments were posted online, met with Coffron, who is apparently a Hallowell resident, and discussed how he could bring a potential proposal for a flag policy, specifically allowing flags other than the pride flag on city property, to the City Council.

“We are deeply concerned that, within days of an extremist posting ‘gotcha’ recordings of the mayor and city on social media to promote his hateful agenda, the city manager chose to give the same man an hourlong private meeting outside city hall, where advice was offered on how to correctly bring his agenda before the city council,” Bourque said. “We also continue to be disappointed with the lack of a meaningful response from the mayor or the city beyond a single, pro forma apology.”

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