Four Pride-themed barriers outside Pepino's in downtown Bangor were vandalized. Eleven barriers with Pride flags were vandalized by September of 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

An Orono man has been accused of defacing downtown barriers painted to celebrate LGBTQ pride over the Labor Day weekend.

Paul Melanson, 61, was charged with criminal mischief, according to Bangor police Sgt. Wade Betters.

Melanson allegedly defaced several concrete barricades that belong to the city of Bangor and had been placed around outdoor seating areas. Barriers outside Black Bear Brewing Co. on Exchange Street and Pepinos on Park Street were among those targeted.

Earlier this summer, the city allowed the barriers to be painted the colors of a rainbow flag in support of the LGBTQ community, according to Betters.

Betters said a truck was identified in connection to the vandalism and charged its owner, Melanson.

Betters said that the police department has been in contact with the Maine attorney general’s office as it does when investigating potential civil rights violations or crimes motivated by bias. A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office confirmed it is reviewing the case, but otherwise declined to comment.

In 2007, Melanson complained to the Orono School Committee about a transgender girl, Nicole Maines, who was using the girls bathroom at Asa Adams Elementary School, where his grandson also attended. Maines was told to use a staff bathroom after the complaint.

That sparked a years-long court fight that ended in 2014 when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled it unlawful to force transgender children to use the school bathroom designated for the sex they were born with rather than the one with which they identify. Later that year, the Penobscot County Superior Court issued an order enjoining the Orono School Department from discriminating against other students as it did against Maines and awarded $75,000 to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston and Berman Simmons, a Portland law firm, which represented the girl and her parents.