Maine police chief angry after crowd targets officers with fireworks

"Such unruly and dangerous aggression and use of force against our officers and community cannot and will not be tolerated," Police Chief Frank Clark said


By Dennis Hoey
Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND, Maine — An unruly crowd targeted Portland police officers with fireworks Monday evening near Kennedy Park in East Bayside, and later Monday, officers saw someone fire several gunshots near the park.

No one was injured in either incident, police said.

Officers responded around 9 p.m. to reports of illegal fireworks being set off by about 300 people gathered near Oxford and Anderson streets, Portland police said in a statement.

When the officers tried to disperse the crowd, some people shot fireworks at them, according to the release.

One 17-year-old boy was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal use of explosives, police said.

Around 12:04 a.m. Tuesday, police received a call about a man armed with a gun in the area of Greenleaf Street, also near Kennedy Park. Around 12:13 a.m., officers observed, from a distance, about 10 gunshots fired in the area of Smith and East Lancaster streets.

Police investigated, but found no one who had been shot. One person was detained for questioning, but was released. The crowd "remained extremely confrontational and hostile towards officers, with continued fireworks thrown at them," police said.

The incidents drew a harsh rebuke from Portland Police Chief Frank Clark.

"Such unruly and dangerous aggression and use of force against our officers and community cannot and will not be tolerated," Clark said in statement. "I would urge anyone with information or video footage that could help solve this case to call or provide it to us, even anonymously, so this dangerous behavior can be quickly quelled."

Police officers did not suffer any serious injuries, but several complained of headaches and ear-ringing from being exposed to multiple fireworks explosions, police spokesman David Singer said.

Singer said the crowd lingered for hours until dispersing around 1:30 a.m.

The incidents also drew dozens of comments on the Portland police Facebook page.

"I'm saddened by the disrespect for officers doing good work. It's tough being a police officer in America," one man commented.

"That was a big crowd," wrote another man, who said he witnessed the crowd's behavior. "No need for that kind of unruly behavior. Totally unacceptable."

A woman who had to drive through the crowd said it seemed much larger than 300 people. She described the scene as mayhem, with people throwing fireworks at one another.

"Reading this makes me sick to my stomach. All those thugs trying to attack law enforcement should all go to jail," another woman posted.

Monday's disturbances were the opposite of a mostly peaceful fireworks display Sunday night on Portland's Eastern Promenade. The city estimated that about 15,000 people watched the fireworks display, and there were no reports of violence or confrontations with officers.

Anyone with information about the Kennedy Park incidents is asked to contact the Portland Police Department at (207) 874-8575.

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(c)2021 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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