August 5, 2010

Hartland activist files complaint

Founder of Maine Patriots website tells police she was surrounded by group of people who threatened her, wanted access to site

PALMYRA -- Police are investigating a complaint by the founder of the Maine Patriots website, Amy Hale of Hartland, who said she was surrounded by a group of people and threatened until she relinquished control of the site.

The site is reportedly popular among supporters of the Maine Tea Party movement.

Hale, in a message Wednesday night on the site, wrote that more than 10 people cornered her and told her that "bad things" would happen to her if she did not give them the password to the website for the Maine Patriots.

Her message, which was posted on the Maine Patriots' website, mainepatriots.ning.com, matches what she reported to police, Maine State Police Trooper Jon Brown said.

Her online statement was "I was cornered in the parking lot by 10+ people and told that bad things would happen to me if I did not give them the password and hand over Maine Patriots. Therefore, I no longer have control of Maine Patriots."

The Maine Patriots' website features a Fox News feed, blog, history section and updates on Tea Party events. The flag image on its home page is inscribed with: "I am a proud Maine Patriot dedicated to restoring the Constitution, maintaining & defending state sovereignty and saving our Republic!"

Brown said police received the report at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, but declined to say when the alleged event took place or where in Palmyra. As of Wednesday afternoon, Brown had interviewed Hale, he said, but he had not yet spoken with others involved.

Efforts to reach Hale and three others associated with Maine Patriots by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful.

The group's Facebook page, which says it was founded March 3, 2009, has 72 fans. The group's stated goal is: "To educate others about what is in the Constitution and what our government is doing to violate it. We also write letters, make phone calls and hold tea parties to let our elected officials know that we are not happy with what they are doing to our country."

Although the investigation is ongoing, messages posted on a related site, Maine Refounders, at paintmainered.ning.com, suggested the incident followed an internal dispute about Hale's leadership.

Joseph DeCoste of North Anson has a website, teapartymaine.org, that links to Hale's. He said he was familiar with the "growing pains" of Maine Patriots.

"The things that are happening are overshadowing the larger picture," he said. "There's very much concern that this type of in-fighting and dispute between siblings of the movement is clouding the big story."

Erin Rhoda -- 474-9534

erhoda@centralmaine.com

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