Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey is seen in this 2016 file photo. Credit: BDN File

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey has filed a complaint under the Maine Civil Rights Act after an alleged racist interaction that was observed in Freeport in November of 2021.

The complaint was filed against William Rowe, 61, of Freeport, and alleges that Rowe threatened a 39-year-old Black man with a pistol while he was dining at Antonio’s Pizzeria on Nov. 30, 2021, according to Nicole Sacre, a spokesperson for the Maine Office of the Attorney General.

The man, who has not been named, reportedly filmed Rowe who approached him while he was seated in his vehicle in the restaurant parking lot with a white woman. The man noticed that Rowe was carrying a Smith and Wesson pistol that was visible under his arm when approaching the vehicle, according to Sacre.

Rowe allegedly leaned over the window of the man’s vehicle and told him “Something stinks. You got it?” The man replied and asked Rowe what was going on, while Rowe continued to display the pistol, Sacre said.

Rowe then reportedly responded “Freeport, Maine, baby.  We don’t do this [expletive] in Freeport, Maine,” to the man in the vehicle.

Rowe continued to ask the man in the vehicle a number of questions, to which the unnamed man continued to respond calmly, according to Sacre. After the man in the vehicle stated “I’m leaving, my man,” Rowe reportedly accused the man of being a “bad, bad guy,” and continued to use inappropriate language directed at the man.

The unnamed man alleges that the barrel of the gun was pointed at him from under Rowe’s arm when Rowe turned away from him.

Frey’s complaint alleges that Rowe targeted the man based on his race or color, and requested an order prohibiting Rowe from having any contact with the victim and from violating the Maine Civil Rights Act in the future.

The state’s Civil Rights Act prohibits the use of physical force or violence, the threat of physical force or violence, property damage or the threat of property damage against another person motivated by bias against the other person’s race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation.

A purposeful violation of an order issued under the Civil Rights Act is a Class D crime punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

“Who could have imagined that in 2021 in Freeport, Maine, a Black man would be threatened with violence for dining with a white woman? I am deeply concerned that such racism and intolerance persist in this state,” Frey said. “No person should feel unsafe due to the color of his skin and the company he keeps.  Such conduct demonstrates the continued need for enforcement under the Maine Civil Rights Act.” 

The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office has also filed a criminal complaint against Rowe for criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, threatening display of a weapon and criminal mischief.

Rowe is initially set to appear in court on Feb. 22, 2022.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.