Mt. Desert residents vote to become Maine's first 'sanctuary community'

MOUNT DESERT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Residents in the Hancock County town of Mount Desert voted Tuesday in a nonbinding resolution, declaring the town a "sanctuary community."

The wording in the text of the resolution states, "Whereas Mount Desert is a community known for welcoming people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities, and whereas its local economy is driven by this diversity, we formally declare ourselves a sanctuary community."

Residents at the annual town meeting voted 101-59 for the nonbinding resolution. It was placed on the town warrant after a citizen's petition was turned in to the town office. 

Organizers of the petition said the resolution sought to "protect the independence of our local law enforcement by refusing to require police or town employees to serve as enforcers of federal immigration law."

Caroline Pryor – the current chairperson of Mount Desert's school board and one of five circulators of the citizen's petition – said in her opening remarks to the town meeting: "Mount Desert is a welcoming community. It welcomed me thirty-five years ago. We have an opportunity to lead; millions of people from all over the world come across the bridge every year. What if a simple action tonight sent a ripple of kindness, equality and inclusiveness into the world?"

David Feldman, professor of physics and mathematics at College of the Atlantic said, "Immigrants have heard a lot of not very nice things about them from some of our leaders recently. These people are my friends, colleagues, neighbors, and students. I'm proud that our town decided to make a positive statement and affirm that all people are welcome in Mount Desert."

An identical resolution will be considered at the Bar Harbor town meeting on June 6.

More information on the petition can be found here.

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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