Maine Currents 10/6/20: Hate Groups in Maine

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

CORRECTION: Shenna Bellows previously worked for the ACLU, not the AFL-CIO

On this edition of Maine Currents, we embark on a series of discussions about hate groups in Maine

Crash Barry is an investigative journalist, author, and podcaster. He is the former editor-at-large for Mainer News and has worked as a print, radio and web reporter for over 25 years, with a focus on the seamy side of Maine life. First as a muckraker for Portland alt-weeklies, then as a news-talk show producer, followed by a stint as a national correspondent for a radio network. During the early 2000s, Crash went undercover for a series of stories for the now-defunct Casco Bay Weekly, staying in homeless shelters, working day labor, cleaning nasty apartments, and for a brief period, flipping burgers at McDonalds. (His first shift started at noon, on September 11, 2001.) From 2005 onwards, he contributed films, investigative cover stories and columns to The Bollard, a Portland alt-monthly and wrote extensively about Maine’s path to cannabis liberation for Crash is the author of three books, the rollicking novel Sex, Drugs and Blueberries, the gritty memoir Tough Island and the true story Marijuana Valley.
Crash is also a filmmaker and directed the adaptation of his novel Sex, Drugs and Blueberries. View his work here

Andy O’Brien is a former state legislator, former managing editor of the Free Press in Rockland and the current communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO. His writings have been published in Down East, Huffington Post, Labor Notes and Mainer Magazine. He is also the co-founder of O’Chang Studios, which produces the popular cartoon web series Temp Tales as well as animations for a variety of businesses, government agencies, educational institutions and nonprofits. He also does freelance reporting on far-right groups in Maine. Links to some of his recent related work is below “related articles from Mainer News” section

Shenna Bellows is the Executive Director of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine Shenna joined the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine in June, 2018. Shenna is also a State Senator for Senate District 14 in Kennebec County. Shenna led the ACLU of Maine as Executive Director for eight years and served as Interim Executive Director for LearningWorks. Most recently, Bellows owned a nonprofit consulting firm providing services to a range of nonprofit organizations ranging from the Maine Women’s Lobby to the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. She was a key leader on the successful 2012 marriage equality campaign and co-chaired the successful 2011 statewide ballot campaign to restore same day voter registration. She served as a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Panama and AmeriCorps VISTA in Nashville.

Steve Wessler founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. Since 2011 he has been teaching and consulting on human rights issues in colleges and around the world. He is also the host of Change Agents on WERU-FM, the 1st Thursday of every month at 4pm

Related articles from Mainer News:

Hatebook – The Facebook group that promoted violence and death threats against Safiya Khalid, the first Somali-American elected to the Lewiston City Council

Leaks Show Mainer’s Online Radicalization By Neo-Nazi Terrorist Cult

UMaine College Republicans Caught in MAGA Civil War

Maine GOP Leadership Goes to Bat for White Nationalistic College Club

About the host:
Amy Browne started out at WERU as a volunteer news & public affairs producer in 2000, co-hosting/co-producing RadioActive with Meredith DeFrancesco. She joined the team of Voices producers a few years later, and has been WERU’s News & Public Affairs Manager since January, 2006. In addition to RadioActive, Voices and Maine Currents, she also produced and hosted the WERU News Report for several years. She has produced segments for national programs including Free Speech Radio News, This Way Out, Making Contact, Workers Independent News, Pacifica PeaceWatch, and Live Wire News, and has contributed to Democracy Now and the WBAI News Report. She is the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Environmental Journalism Award from the Sierra Club of Maine, and the First Place 2017 Radio News Award from the Maine Association of Broadcasters.