October 22, 2001

OCTOBER 22, 2001

CONTACT:Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0498

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed a lawsuit under the Maine Civil Rights Act against a Portland man for assaulting a City of Portland parking official because he was from Afghanistan. The Complaint alleges that on September 21, 2001, after receiving a ticket on Congress Street for illegally parking his automobile, 47 year old Leslie Holmes accosted the parking official by repeatedly yelling obscenities at him, calling him an Afghan, and yelling that he should "go home" to Afghanistan. The Complaint further alleges that Holmes forcibly struck the parking official in the chest and pushed him backwards, and that he tried to spit on the parking official.

The Maine Civil Rights Act prohibits any person from assaulting or threatening another person because of that person's national origin or ancestry (or because of race, color, religion, sex, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation). The lawsuit seeks a court order that would make it a crime for Holmes to violate the Maine Civil Rights Act again in the future. Holmes also faces civil penalties of up to $5,000.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Many people of Afghan descent came to the United States because they faced persecution and violence at home. They came here, as many of our families did, because this nation stands for freedom and justice. We must do everything we can to ensure that this remains the case."

The Attorney General expressed his appreciation for the prompt investigation of this matter by the Portland Police Department.