BRUNSWICK — The car owned by an openly gay town councilor was targeted with an apparently homophobic flyer Monday morning while she attended a public 9/11 memorial on the Town Mall.
At-Large Councilor Kathy Wilson said “there’s no way of knowing” whether the perpetrator knew the car belonged to her or acted in response to a gay pride bumper sticker on the vehicle.
After Wilson filed a police report, Capt. Mark Waltz on Tuesday said the department was already investigating three similar flyers that were left Sept. 6 inside the Cook’s Corner Burger King.
Both incidents followed a report last week of hateful vandalism at Bowdoin College, where a third-floor library study space was defaced Aug. 28 with offensive graffiti, including homophobic language and a swastika.
Wilson said the message left on her windshield was more cryptic, but was unequivocally meant as “a slap against gay people.”
She said she parked her car at the corner of School Street and Park Row around 10:30 a.m. Monday, and then walked to the Town Mall gazebo for the memorial.
At around 12:30 p.m. when she got in her car “there’s this thing sticking in my wiper,” she said in an interview Tuesday morning, referring to a folded sheet of paper.
Wilson recalled that, after unfolding the paper, “I said, son of a gun,” when images equating a rainbow flag to the communist symbol of a red hammer and sickle were revealed.
At the top of the page, the text “The Forest Brothers” is printed under a black-and-white graphic depicting a pair of crossed rifles against an encircled mountain range; the note included no other message or signature.
“There were no other cars that had it, so I would assume I was clearly targeted because I do have the rainbow sticker” – symbolizing LGBT pride – “on the back of my car,” she surmised.
It was not clear what the images are meant to communicate.
“Nobody can figure out what the message is intended to say, except for, you know, that it’s not nice,” said Wilson, who called the cryptic equation “confusing.”
“The people that harbor a lot of hate are not the brightest people we run into,” she said. “Normally I wouldn’t necessarily say that.
“I don’t know who the Forest Brothers are,” she added. When she Googled the phrase, she only found references to a World War II-era, anti-Soviet militant group made up of guerrilla warriors from the Baltic region.
If a present-day group has borrowed the name for its own use, Wilson is unaware of it, she said.
“But it’s pretty obvious that somebody’s walking around with these in their backpack,” she noted. “They didn’t see my car and then run to some place and print it.
“There are people walking around prepared to let us know they hate someone,” she said.
Waltz said the flyers discovered at Burger King last week also bore “The Forest Brothers” logo, but included different “equations.”
One was almost identical to the version found on Wilson’s car, he said. Another equated a picture of The Forecaster columnist Edgar Allen Beem to “commie scum,” and the third said “Black lives matter = killing cops!”
Both acts are being investigated as a bias incidents, Waltz said, “and the one with (Wilson) could potential be a crime, and considered harassment.”
Wilson said what happened at her car, and Bowdoin’s Visual Art library, resemble the kinds of bias incidents that led to the formation of the town’s Human Rights Task Force.
That panel formed in late 2015 after a reported uptick in hateful language around the downtown and college area. Wilson serves on the committee with Councilors Jane Millett and Chairwoman Sarah Brayman.
“I condemn that type of activity anywhere in Brunswick,” Brayman said of the Bowdoin College incident Monday morning, approximately an hour before her fellow councilor discovered the homophobic flyer on her vehicle.
A member of the college’s housekeeping staff discovered the bigoted messages scrawled on library whiteboards on Sept. 5, according to The Bowdoin Orient.
Randy Nichols, Bowdoin’s director of safety and security, told the paper he was unsure whether the perpetrator was a student, noting that one of the library’s exterior doors had malfunctioned the evening before and allowed public access to the building until 11 p.m. Monday evening.
Wilson said she asked the police to see whether nearby retailers have security footage that might reveal who stuck the flyer on her car.
In the meantime, she said the Human Rights Task Force will likely address the incidents at their next meeting, which Brayman said she is working to schedule.
This cryptic but apparently homophobic flyer was left on the windshield of a car owned by Brunswick Town Councilor Kathy Wilson while she attended a 9/11 memorial on the Town Mall.