Health nonprofit barred from aiding inmates over BLM support

The Hancock County sheriff ended the work of a nonprofit with jail inmates recovering from addiction in June because the organization had put out a statement supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sheriff Scott Kane terminated the agreement with Healthy Acadia, which provided peer mentors for inmates in the county, because of a statement it posted on its website, The Bangor Daily News reported on Tuesday.

In the June 3 statement, which was a response to national protests against racial injustice, Healthy Acadia had included mention of “police brutality" and said the organization stands “together with Black Lives Matter,” the newspaper reported.

“As a public health organization, the issue of racial equity is well within our mission and can and should be considered and prioritized across our program areas,” Elsie Flemings, executive director of Healthy Acadia, told the newspaper.

Kane refused to work with the group after meeting with Fleming and the Ellsworth-based group revised its statement, the newspaper reported.

“We just don’t do business like that,” Kane told the newspaper. “I believe no matter what race you are, your life matters.”

Kane falsely claimed Black Lives Matter is a “terrorist group” that seeks to overthrow the government and kill police officers, the newspaper reported. It is a view that has also been promoted by a prominent law enforcement training organization but that experts say is dangerous and based on inaccurate information. For example, the training organization falsely states that the movement includes skilled snipers and conflates BLM with anti-fascist networks, which experts say primes a violent response to racial injustice protests.

Calls for the Black Lives Matter movement to be labeled a terrorist organization date back at least to 2016 with a petition to the White House that gained over 100,000 signatures when Barack Obama was president. In a visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in September, former President Donald Trump furthered those calls describing the protests and destruction over the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer as “ domestic terror.”

The sheriff in Washington County also considered ending its work with the group because of its support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but ultimately decided to continue to allow the peer mentoring addiction program to continue.

Hancock county has not found a replacement for the peer mentorship that Healthy Acadia provided for inmates with addiction, though Kane said he was close to finalizing an agreement.