MOUNT DESERT — Liberal activist Annlinn Kruger of Bar Harbor wrote graffiti critical of prominent conservative Leonard Leo on the street outside his house in Northeast Harbor on Monday.
Leo is co-chair of the Federalist Society and advised former President Donald Trump on nominations to the Supreme Court and other federal courts.
There have been protests outside his house on South Shore Road since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights in June.
On Monday night, Kruger received a call from the Mount Desert Police Department telling her that if she did not remove the message from the sidewalk she would be arrested for criminal mischief.
But police Captain David Kerns told the Islander on Tuesday that he has instructed the officers in Mount Desert to refrain from summonsing or charging anyone at this point. He said the message near Leo’s house and other similar ones around town are written in some material that is not as easily removed as chalk.
“I think we’re just going to try to handle it by talking with her and maybe asking her to use chalk or something else that is easier to wash off, if someone wants to do that,” Kerns said.
The police haven’t received complaints about the messages on the sidewalks except, apparently, from Leo.
“I think it’s really only the person that these are directed to who is irate because they aren’t easy to remove,” Kerns said.
He noted that the messages are being written on public property, not private property. And unless the police start getting complaints, he thinks it would be “short-sighted for the town to take a stance on this,” given the freedom of speech implications.
Kruger told the Islander on Tuesday that she participated in a rally in front of Leo’s house Monday evening and painted graffiti on the street that read “Leonard Leo = Corrupt Court.” She said she used homemade chalk paint.
“Other graffiti I painted with it has washed away some or completely with rain, worn away with foot traffic, and been washed off by persons unknown,” she said.
Before painting the graffiti around town in Northeast Harbor, she did so in Bar Harbor after checking with Police Chief Jim Willis. He also is chief of the Mount Desert Police Department.
“I was told that using chalk paint on public property is allowed,” Kruger said. “Later the Bar Harbor police got a complaint, found me in the act and agreed I was in compliance with the law.”
Asked if she intends to continue protesting and painting graffiti on streets and sidewalks, she said, “Absolutely.” But she said her focus would be on what she sees as government corruption and the unfettered influence of money in politics.
The New York Times and other national news organizations have reported in the past few days that a new conservative political action group headed by Leo has received a $1.6 billion donation from Barre Seid, a 90-year-old Chicago industrialist. According to ProPublica, it is “the largest known political advocacy donation in U.S. history.”