- Associated Press - Saturday, June 30, 2018

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Residents frustrated by the Trump administration’s immigrations policies rallied at more than two dozen locations Saturday in northern New England, delivering a rebuke that included cheers, jeers and prayers.

The rally in Maine’s largest city grew so big that police had to shut down part of Congress Street in Portland, as about 2,000 demonstrators spilled from the steps of City Hall onto the road. Speakers included members of the city’s growing immigrant community.

Robert O’Brien, of Peaks Island, held aloft an upside-down U.S. flag, the symbol of distress, to show his disapproval for Republican President Donald Trump’s policies, including separations of families. He called the forced family separations “cruel and unusual punishment.”

“We are on the cusp of a full-on, fascist, authoritarian regime. Trump is clearly taking unilateral action against certain groups of people that he wants to keep out of the country,” O’Brien said.

Across the region, rallies were held in Brunswick, Bangor and Bar Harbor in Maine; Concord, Conway and Portsmouth in New Hampshire; and Burlington, Brattleboro and Rutland in Vermont.

In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Sofia Lemon let her daughter, 4-year-old Addie, play in a fountain to cool down during the rally.

“I have friends who are immigrants. I believe that this country should not be turning people away. It’s not what we are about in America,” the Farmington resident said.

At the border crossing to Canada at Rouses Point, New York, the Rev. Peter Cook completed the Bible verse that Attorney General Jeff Sessions used to tell people to obey the law.

Cook said people are supposed to love one another and that “the one who loves one another has fulfilled the law.”

In Brunswick, independent Sen. Angus King of Maine joined a demonstration in his hometown and denounced forced family separations.

He tweeted that he’ll keep “fighting this misguided practice, and urge Maine people who feel the same to keep speaking out.” He said the mood at the event matched the frustrated calls received by his office, saying people are “shocked, angry and ready to create change.”

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