A gaggle of Maine clergy is risking arrest at a sit-in that began at Senator Susan Collins (R) Portland office this morning just after 11:00 am and has not ended as of 6:30 pm this evening. The clergy is protesting the tax plan Collins recently voted for which favors the wealthiest over the most vulnerable among us.
“We are concerned about what is happening to millions of Americans because of the tax plan that Senator Collins supports. It is as though some of the public is expendable,” said Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, Pastor and one of the organizers of the sit-in to a Collins staff member upon arriving at the Senator’s office this morning. Members of the gaggle of faith leaders took turns telling staff member, Kate Simpson, of their concerns for the most vulnerable among us.
“We will stay here until we receive a commitment from the Senator that she will not support the current tax plan,” said Rev. Ewing-Merrill, of HopeGateWay, Portland and one of the organizers of the sit-in. That sentiment was echoed by many of the other members of the clergy waiting outside her office at One Canal Plaza that featured sauna like temperatures in it. The hours were spent singing, praying and talking of the hardships already experienced by Mainers before the tax plan could go into effect and its resulting intended consequences. (See above left photo of Rev. Ewing-Merrill.)
Late in the day the clergy were given instructions on what to expect and what to do should they in fact be arrested for not vacating the Senator’s space at the end of the day. Should they be arrested, the charge would be criminal trespass and the sentence less than six months. One instruction to The Nine was to write the phone number on their arms of Jay O’Hara who was instructing them on how to proceed during the arrest process.
As of early this evening, nine of the original clergy group remained in Collins’ outer office refusing to leave when the office hours ended at 5:00 pm. They could leave, but the door was locked and no one could enter without their cooperation. In mid-day, the clergy met with Simpson. She said they would be asked to leave at 5:00 pm., but that they would not be arrested if they decided to stay.
“…..Maine is a state on the margins. For example, we are the most food insecure state in New England. Many people, young and old, are struggling to make ends meet. As faith leaders in this state, we have been entrusted with the stories of ordinary Mainers who come to our churches and houses of workshop seeking help because they have nowhere else to go. Too often their burden is compounded by fear and shame as they admit that they don’t know how to pay for food, heat or housing costs each month. Some of our congregations have even begun leveraging their buildings to house the overflowing populations of Mainers experiencing homelessness,” said Rev. Tamara T. McGovern, Woodfords Congregational Church, as part of a letter to Senator Susan Collins (R) regarding her support of the Trump tax plan, she read.
“………..Senator, I know it must be hard to keep pushing back against your party and insisting that they can do better…..We are asking you to vote NO. BUT, we are not asking you to do it alone. We are here praying for you and praying for this great state,” said the Rev. McGovern in her statement. (Please see above right photo of Rev. McGovern.)
Today is the Senator’s 65th birthday.