NATIONAL NEWS

Maine governor signs bill restricting paramilitary training in response to neo-Nazi’s plan

Apr 12, 2024, 3:33 PM

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A bill to restrict paramilitary training in Maine in response to a neo-Nazi who wanted to create a training center for a “blood tribe” was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Friday.

The law, which the governor signed without public comment, allows the attorney general to file for a court injunction to stop such efforts and to bring charges that carry a penalty of up to a year in jail.

It was introduced after the prominent neo-Nazi and white supremacist, Christopher Pohlhaus, sought to set up a training center on property that he ultimately sold before carrying out the plan.

Opponents argued that the measure could trample on constitutional rights, while supporters said it aims to prevent the creation of shadow military forces for purposes of sowing civil disorder.

Attorney General Aaron Frey said militias that don’t follow the orders of civilian leaders were already prohibited by the Maine Constitution, but that applies specifically to groups parading with guns in public or outfitted in clothing that looks like real military uniforms.

Before the new law, he said, he had no way to bring a criminal case against someone using military training to create civil disorder, as authorities say Pohlhaus sought to do.

Vermont took a similar action last year by banning people from owning and running paramilitary training camps. That bill came in response to a firearms training facility built without permits that neighbors called a nuisance.

The Vermont law, which came in response to a property known as Slate Ridge, prohibits people from teaching, training or demonstrating to others how to make or use firearms, explosives or incendiary devices to cause civil disorder.

It does not apply to law enforcement or educational institutions like Norwich University. Violators face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $50,000 or both.

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Maine governor signs bill restricting paramilitary training in response to neo-Nazi’s plan