- Associated Press - Friday, January 20, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The decision by a Green Party official to take a high school band to Washington to participate in Republican President Donald Trump’s inaugural festivities is at the center of a clash between well-known members of the state’s Green Independent Party.

The party’s co-chairman, Gil Harris, said he’s heard at least one call for secretary Ben Meiklejohn’s resignation as well as concerns about a Green Party officer participating in the ceremony. But Harris said that he is taking a “neutral” stance and that the party’s bylaws don’t address whether an officer should be forced out in such a scenario.

Madawaska band director Jon Meiklejohn said he is not representing the Green Party and just wanted to give the band members a chance to be a part of history when he accepted an invitation to participate in inaugural festivities. The director said that his high school band participated in former Republican President George H.W. Bush’s inaugural parade in 1989 and that the band’s participation in the Trump inaugural festivities has “already brought so much positivity and joy.”

He said with no time to prepare, the band of about 29 members started off its performance at a Thursday concert in Washington with a rendition of the state’s official march: Dirigo March. The Madawaska middle school and high school band was one of a dozen performers across the nation chosen for an inaugural welcome concert after an application process.

Meiklejohn’s decision to have his band participate has concerned a few in the party. Two members who have run for political office - former Portland mayoral candidate Tom MacMillan and former state legislative candidate Seth Baker - said they were switching to the Socialist Party USA, in part because the party didn’t hold Meiklejohn “accountable” for “supporting Trump” by participating in the inaugural ceremony.

Baker said it’s the latest in a series of “dysfunction” leading the two to leave and focus on building up a socialist movement.

But Meiklejohn - who said he is not a Trump supporter - said politics wasn’t a part of the decision.

“Students in my band were Clinton supporters, but nobody said, ‘We don’t want our child to go,’” Meiklejohn said. “Everybody pretty much unanimously was able to disassociate politics with a historical event and realize how beneficial it is to perform in the event regardless of what the politics are.”

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