A Stonington woman was released from Penobscot County Jail on Friday morning after serving a 24-hour jail sentence for her role in an anti-war protest held in September at U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe’s Bangor office.
‘EACH OF US IS COMPLICIT’
Nancy Hill (left) of Stonington reads her statement shortly after she was released from the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor on Friday. (Bangor Daily News/ Gabor Degre)
Nancy Hill, 53, was released from jail and met with a handful of awaiting friends just after 10 a.m. After initial hugs from her husband and friends, she made a statement proclaiming her “moral responsibility” to occupy the senator’s office in protest because “each of us Mainers are complicit to what is going on in Iraq.”
“It was such a void time,” Hill said about her jail experience. “Incarceration is so punitive, they [the inmates] are all being forced to be useless.”
Hill was among 11 protesters who gathered at Snowe’s office in September, but unlike the rest, this was not her first brush with the law.
In March 2003, Hill was one of 12 arrested at the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Bangor. In that case, two went to trial and were sentenced to 10 hours of community service. Hill and the nine others pleaded no contest and had to perform 40 hours of community service or pay a $200 fine, which could be paid as a donation to the charity of their choice. Hill said she painted a homeless shelter for her community service last time.
But Hill, after pleading guilty Thursday to her second criminal trespassing offense in 3rd District Court in Bangor, was not given the option of performing community service and refused to pay a fine. A typical fine for a second offense is between $400 and $500, said Assistant District Attorney Jim Aucoin, who prosecuted the case.
The remaining 10 protesters from the September sit-in, though facing their first offense, also had earlier had a plea agreement for community service rejected by the court. On Thursday they pleaded not guilty and will go to trial on Jan. 9, according to defense attorney Lynne Williams.
Richard Stander, who was arrested at the federal building in 2003 and showed up Friday to support Hill, said, “There has been a major shift in the policy of the courts, which now send peace activists to jail rather than performing community service.”
Stander said he feels civil disobedience, such as protesting, should be handled differently from a typical criminal trespass case. He also said community service should be an acceptable punishment for any criminal trespass crime, since it gives back to the community.
Prosecutor Aucoin said Friday, “It is difficult to deal with these [such cases] because different judges do different things with them. Some see them as civil disobedience and others do not make the distinction from criminal trespass.”
Bangor Daily News