The official Facebook page of the Waterville Republican Committee was removed last weekend after posting a racist message supporting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and encouraging further violence.
“What happened in Washington this week was not a violent insurrection,” the post read. “The American people won this election. What you are witnessing [with the certification of Joe Biden’s win] is the most blatant fraud and coup ever seen.”
The post refers to “legalized riots, looting, and murder by [Black Lives Matter] and their associated storm troopers [who] want you locked down, out of work … scared, compliant, obedient. They want you masked and vaccinated, and eventually microchipped and managed like software.”
“Winter may be here, and it may get quite dark and cold,” the post concludes, “but spring is just on the other side. Courage!” The image that accompanies the post juxtaposes Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” with a photo of two men atop a statue, one holding a Confederate flag. “American Spring,” it reads, “It’s In Your Blood.”
The message, posted before dawn on Jan. 9 and shared numerous times, was deleted later that day. The GOP group’s entire page subsequently disappeared from Facebook, but it’s not known whether its administrator or Facebook removed it.
Anti-fascist activists in Maine copied the post and exposed it on Twitter, where it caught the attention of recently elected Waterville Mayor Jay Coelho. Prodded on Twitter to denounce the post, Coelho wrote, “I prefer not to bring more attention to a page froth [sic] with propaganda and nonsense. … I denounce anything or anyone looking to create division.”
However, Coelho also pushed the Maine Republican Party’s leadership to respond to the post, writing in a tweet: “Looks like the leaders of that particular group may want to let us know if the [Waterville GOP] page speaks for all of them.”
“If what [the Waterville Republicans] said doesn’t speak for them, then say it doesn’t,” Coelho said in an interview with Mainer.
Jason Savage, Executive Director of the Maine Republican Party, did not respond to a request for comment. No state GOP officials responded to Coelho on Twitter, either.
The Vice Chairman of the Maine Republican Party, former Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro, has a history of making incendiary and racist remarks. In 2018, residents of Waterville attempted to remove him from office after he told a survivor of the Parkland massacre, gun-control activist David Hogg, to “eat it.” In 2019, he drew criticism from Democrats and some Republicans for comments falsely linking asylum seekers to the spread of disease.
On Jan. 6, Isgro cheered the insurrectionists gathered in Washington, D.C., on Twitter. In one post that day, he shared footage of protesters chanting “Christ is King!” and commented, “More of this!” He also retweeted an ominous photo of a graveyard accompanied by a quote attributed to the canonized 19th century bishop John Neumann: “A man must always be ready for death, for death comes when and where God wills it.”
The Chairman of the Waterville Republican Committee is Shaun Caron. Caron is an associate of neo-Nazi Tom Kawcznyski, who briefly served as the town manager of Jackman, Maine, until Mainer reporters Andy O’Brien and Crash Barry exposed his white supremacist views in early 2018. In 2019, Caron and Kawcznyski protested an LGBTQ event at a bookstore in Waterville, and they set up a Facebook group, called “Maine for Mainers,” that promoted white supremacist views and whose members threatened a local waitress who called out their bigotry online.
Caron, who did not respond to a request for comment, wrote on his personal Facebook page that the Waterville Republican Committee was relocating to Parler, a social media site that’s welcomed hatemongers banned from more mainstream platforms. On Monday, tech giants Amazon, Apple and Google all took action to remove public access to Parler, citing its role spreading “posts that clearly encourage and incite violence,” according to Amazon Web Services.