Some residents of the Maine island of Vinalhaven appear to have taken the responsibility of enforcing a coronavirus quarantine into their own hands and attempted to force others to stay in their home, local police reported. On March 27, the Coast Guard was contacted by an individual at their residence on Cripple Creek Road on the Maine island of Vinalhaven.
The individual reported that “several people with guns had cut down a tree and were telling them that they need to stay quarantined.” When police arrived, they found that a tree had indeed been cut down and dragged to block a residence’s driveway, but the armed group was no longer present.
Some Island Residents Falsely Believed That the Targeted Individuals Should Be in Quarantine
According to the police’s press release on Facebook, “there is a general belief by some island residents that the Cripple Creek Residents are supposed to be quarantined because they came here from another state and could have Covid-19. Deputies did investigate this and learned that the trio had been residing on Vinalhaven for about 30 days, which is outside of the guidance issued by state officials, and none have any symptoms consistent with Covid-19.”
The police indicated that the matter is still under investigation, and reminded the public that “Whether someone is a Maine resident or not, they have the right to free movement and anyone who infringes upon that free movement is potentially violating the law.”
They added that anyone who is concerned that someone has coronavirus and is not respecting isolation rules should contact the police instead of taking matters into their own hands.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office post about the situation generated a lot of debate in the comments about the vigilantes’ actions. Some people expressed their support for the “wood cutters.” One said “Good for the wood cutters, it’s not what anyone wants to do but something has to be done to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, as long as [no] one gets hurt.”
Another resident posted: “Good for them. Hopefully that message gets out to all out of staters running up here…..” While another added “#UfromAwayUstayAway.”
Additional Details on the Situation Were Shared by the State Representative for the Island
Genevieve McDonald, the state representative for the island, posted about the incident on her Facebook page. She indicated that the people targeted by the vigilante island residents are “two guys from NJ on Vinalhaven who have been renting a house since September while working on a construction job. They went to the mainland, and were targeted because of their license plate when they arrived back on Vinalhaven.”
She added that this incident is a huge waste of resources and that “now is not the time to develop or encourage an ‘us vs. them’ mentality.” She finished her post by saying “Stay home, wash your hands, don’t talk to strangers, and don’t waste the time of our first responders.”
Vinalhaven is an island off the coast of mainland Maine, about 14 miles from Rockland. In the last census, its population was just over 1,000 residents.