Kyle Fitzsimons, the first Maine resident charged with participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, acted upon racist conspiracy theories promoted in recent months and years by state Republicans leaders. Those theories include spurious claims that Donald Trump lost the election due to Chinese interference, as well as the so-called “Great Replacement” or “White Genocide” theory, which asserts that wealthy Jews are bringing Black and Latinx immigrants to America to undermine white workers.
Fitzsimons, 37, a resident of the southern Maine town of Lebanon who allegedly worked as a butcher at the Hannaford supermarket in York, was arrested yesterday by the FBI and charged with several crimes, including assault on a federal police officer and other violent acts on federal property. FBI agent Benjamin Spinale wrote that Fitzsimons repeatedly charged into a line of police officers protecting an entrance to the Capitol, grabbing and swinging his fists at the cops, who at one point beat him bloody with baton blows to the head.
Fitzsimons spoke during a 2018 state legislative hearing on a bill to fund a job-training and education center in Lewiston for the city’s large immigrant population, most of whom arrived in Maine from African countries.
“We are being replaced,” Fitzsimons told lawmakers during a three-minute tirade, during which he accused legislators of practicing “euthanasia” on senior citizens and ignoring an opioid crisis that’s “killing us all, killing off Yankee New England culture.”
“You’re doing nothing about it,” Fitzsimons continued, referring to the drug crisis. “You’re bringing in the new Third World, you’re bringing in the replacements. I see what’s going on. It’s black and white, absolutely black and white. So I’m here to tell you right now — you’re being put on notice.”
During the hearing, Fitzsimons said he moved to Maine after living in New York and Rhode Island, which he called “multicultural hell holes.” “Keep Maine Maine,” he said. The state flag has “two white laborers on it. Don’t put ’em at the end of the line.”
The Great Replacement theory has been promoted for years by former Republican state legislator Larry Lockman, who also opposed the bill to fund the jobs center in Lewiston. “The sad truth is, open-borders Leftists at the swamp want to welcome, educate and retail everyone but Mainers!” Lockman wrote in a January 2018 e-mail to supporters. “There is too much at stake to let identity politics and the Left’s War on Whites rule the day.”
In a 2019 column, Portland Press Herald editorial-page editor Greg Kesich called out a host of Maine GOP leaders for promoting tenets of the White Genocide theory, including former Gov. Paul LePage, who endorsed Lockman’s bid for a Maine Senate seat last year and is threatening to run for the Blaine House again next year; Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage, who ran a racist fake-news website called The Maine Examiner; and former Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro, who relinquished his position as Vice Chairman of the state party last month shortly after Mainer published an article linking him to another Republican official with direct ties to neo-Nazis.
More recently, Isgro and other Maine GOP leaders cheered the Jan. 6 insurrection on social media and spread racists lies about Chinese interference in last fall’s election. For example, the liberal online news outlet Beacon reported last month that state GOP Chairwoman Demi Kouzounas told a radio station the Chinese government created COVID-19 to weaken the U.S. economy, “because they knew if the economy stayed strong … our President Trump would be reelected with huge numbers,” she said. “I believe that for sure.”
So, apparently, did Fitzsimons. In a Facebook post attributed to Fitzsimons, cited by the FBI, he wrote, “we are being slow walked towards Chinese ownership by an establishment that is treasonous and all too willing to gaslight the public into believing the theft [of the election] was somehow the will of the people.” The message, posted in the Facebook group Lebanon Maine Truth Seekers on Christmas Eve, was an effort to organize a “caravan” to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 6 certification of electoral votes.
Maine’s most influential Republican, Sen. Susan Collins, has endorsed and financed far-right GOP candidates for many years, including Lockman, QAnon followers running for state office, and Republican Rep. Billy Bob Faukingham’s We the People political action committee, which spreads right-wing COVID conspiracies and is funding a citizen initiative to ban non-citizen immigrants from voting.
Although Collins has avoided explicitly endorsing far-right views in public, she also played a role encouraging the insurrection that nearly took her life.
Collins waited several days after the election was called for Biden to acknowledge what she called his “apparent victory,” and stayed silent during the ensuing weeks as evidence mounted that Trump was trying to subvert the results with baseless allegations of fraud and attempts to induce election officials and members of Congress to overturn the vote.
Collins waited until Jan. 3 to pronounce the election result valid, but did not join her colleagues in formally demanding a recount three days later — a stance that made her a target of insurrectionists who marched on the Capitol “to give our Republicans, the weak ones … the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” Fitzsimons said.
Seemingly oblivious to the rise of far-right insurgents, even as they were invading her workplace, Collins wrote in the Bangor Daily News last month that she initially thought the Jan. 6 attack was being perpetrated by “the Iranians.”