BAR HARBOR — Political protester Annlinn Kruger says she was berated and her phone was grabbed on Tuesday as she was painting graffiti on a street in Bar Harbor that, like the rest of her graffiti around town, was critical of Leonard Leo, a seasonal resident of Northeast Harbor who is co-chair of the conservative Federalist Society.
Leo advised former President Trump on the nomination of a number of federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Abortion rights activists have been picketing outside his Northeast Harbor home since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision in late June, and Kruger has been painting graffiti in Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor with the message, “Google Leonard Leo = Corrupt Courts.”
She said she was painting graffiti on Tuesday when a woman who said she was a friend of Leo told her to “stop defacing the town.” Kruger said she and the woman had a brief argument about abortion.
“I finished that graffiti with her berating me and went on to another spot,” Kruger said in an email. “She and her family followed, continuing their berating and demands that I stop. Her husband called the police. I started filming him. He said, ‘You don’t have my permission. If you don’t stop, I’ll take your phone.’
“His wife wrested my phone from my hand…I wrested my phone back. She said she’d have me charged with assault. I have not yet reported that to the police.
“(This was) the first time in my decades of protesting that someone made physical contact with me,” said Kruger, who is 73.
“I now will have someone from the activist community accompany me when I (paint graffiti), something they’ve been pleading with me to do.”
Kruger said that earlier on Tuesday she was going to check on the previous day’s graffiti when Town Manager Kevin Sutherland approached her.
“(He) told me to stop, threatened to arrest me and charge me $100 a day for removal [of graffiti],” she said.
Later on Tuesday, Sutherland told the Islander that he never threatened to have the police arrest Kruger.
“I’m not in a position to want to arrest her for this, but she needs to be held accountable for what she’s doing, which is a violation of our local laws,” he said. “It really is a strange issue. I don’t know the best way to resolve it.”
Kruger had initially been painting the street and sidewalk graffiti with material that was very difficult for town crews to clean off. After speaking with Sutherland last week, she switched to a much more easily removable chalk paint. But some of the old graffiti still remains.
Sutherland said he had been in front of the fire station on Tuesday when he saw Kruger get off an Island Explorer bus.
“I had been discussing with public works about what it’s been taking to remove this violation. I told her we’re estimating it’s about $100 a day. I told her that if the paint she was using hasn’t been OK’d by the police department, then she needs to stop using it.”