The Maine Democratic Party said it has fired a student canvasser cited by Holden police on Sunday after he allegedly stole a flag owned by a supporter of President Donald Trump.
The incident, which led to a confrontation between the campaign worker and homeowner, attracted fast attention on social media in the last month before the hyper-charged election between the Republican president and Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a targeted U.S. Senate race on the Maine ballot as well.
The 20-year-old campaign worker, Samuel Knabel, a student at the University of Maine in Orono, was charged with misdemeanor theft, Holden police Chief Chris Greeley said. The homeowner said Knabel identified himself as working for House Speaker Sara Gideon, the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, but the Maine Democratic Party said he worked for it.
Knabel was canvassing on Sunday in Holden when he “impulsively” grabbed a Trump flag outside a home and got into his vehicle, Greeley said. The homeowner witnessed the theft and followed the canvasser in his own vehicle for roughly two miles.
Then Knabel pulled over to return the flag. In a defensive posture as the worker walked toward him, the homeowner grabbed the flag with one hand and hit Knabel once with a “half-punch” to the head with another, Greeley said. The canvasser was not injured and went to continue campaigning. Police were called and caught up to Knabel later to issue a summons.
On Tuesday, the Maine Democratic Party said it fired Knabel, with party spokesperson Seth Nelson adding that the organization “doesn’t condone this type of behavior.”