Governor orders that flags remain lowered statewide for the next 18 days in honor of the 18 victims who lost their lives
Governor Janet Mills today provided a comprehensive update on her Administration’s ongoing efforts to provide direct support to Maine people and communities impacted by last week’s mass shooting in Lewiston.
During an afternoon press conference at the Maine State House, the Governor detailed how her Administration is working in close coordination with Federal and local governments to provide resources to those impacted by last week’s tragedy.
The Governor also spoke directly to Maine people who are struggling in the aftermath of the shooting.
“I want to acknowledge that many of us have been feeling a range of emotions: from shock to sadness; from anxiety to fear; from grief to anger. I have felt many of these emotions myself over the past several days, and I am sure we will all feel these things in the coming days. I want Maine people to know this: if you feel this way, that is okay,”said Governor Janet Mills.
“Each of us feels differently. Each person mourns differently. Each person grieves differently. But what is not different – what each of us has in common – is that we are not alone. We are not alone in our feelings; in our mourning; in our grieving. These last five days have shown that the exact opposite is true; that we are together; that we are here for each other, that we are here for you. For we are carrying a heavy pain, but that burden is made lighter when we carry it together,” Governor Mills continued.
The Governor, joined by Economic & Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson and Health & Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew, detailed a series of actions the Mills Administration has taken to make assistance available, including:
- Launching “Healing Together” – an online clearinghouse of information for Maine people looking for ways to help Lewiston victims and their families, as well as mental health supports for anyone affected by last week’s violence;
- Partnering with the Red Cross, the Office of the Attorney General, and the FBI to establish a Family Assistance Center at 65 Central Avenue in Lewiston, where victims and their families can access comprehensive services like mental health counseling, financial aid, spiritual care, and victim advocacy services;
- Opening a Mental Health Assistance Center at the Ramada Inn at 490 Pleasant Street in Lewiston to provide mental health services to the broader community; and
- Creating a dedicated webpage of behavioral health resources for Maine people, including how to talk to children about gun violence, available online at maine.gov/dhhs.
The Governor pledged that in the coming days, her Administration will continue to work closely with Lewiston area schools to ensure students and staff returning to school have full access to services and support they may need. The Administration has worked to ensure clinicians and counselors will be widely available for students and staff in need.
Governor Mills also said, “An important part of our response in the coming weeks will be to understand exactly what happened and to ask ourselves what changes are needed to protect the safety of Maine people.”
“I want to bring together legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, along with public safety officials, public health officials, members of the judicial system, advocates, psychiatrists, community members, and others for a thoughtful and comprehensive discussion,” said Governor Mills. “I believe action is needed – what that action will be must be the product of a broad discussion among a diverse group of voices.”
The Governor announced that additional resources that will be available in the coming days:
- In partnership with the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, federal teams will be in Maine this week to support first responders and veterans, victims in need of compensation, and health care workers.
- The Department of Health and Human Services will launch an online form that will allow communities or organizations to request behavioral health help.
- The Administration, through the Department of Economic & Community Development, is working with the Small Business Administration and the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to identify potential assistance for businesses that were impacted by shelter-in-place closures.
Additional information about these and other resources will be announced by the Mills Administration.
In honor of the 18 victims who lost their lives as a result of the shootings last Wednesday evening, Governor Mills announced that she has ordered that the flags of the United States and the State of Maine remain at half-staff statewide for the next 18 days, until sunset on November 17, 2023. Governor Mills and President Biden previously ordered that flags be lowered through sunset today.
The Governor’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are as follows:
Good afternoon. To anyone with tv cameras, please include our ASL interpreter in all of your camera shots.
I am joined today by Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Like many Maine people, I breathed a sigh of relief last Friday when I was informed that police had found the body of Robert Card.
Their discovery meant that Card was no longer a threat to anyone else. But it also meant that Lewiston, and the entire state of Maine, could take the first small step on the long road to healing.
In the wake of this tragedy, I have seen the very best of Maine people.
Last night in Lewiston, I saw people from across Maine fill the historic Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, and a thousand more stood arm-in-arm outside in the cold, to honor those who lost their lives and those who were harmed, and to be together, with one another.
People of different backgrounds, of different faiths, of different races – all united by an unwavering compassion and an unbreakable love for one another, for Lewiston, for Maine.
In the face of great tragedy and difficulty, it is the hallmark of Maine people to come together to love and support one another.
And that is what brings me here today.
Today I want to keep the people of Maine informed about what my Administration is doing, in close partnership with communities across the state, and I want to tell you what you can do to help.
In memory of those we’ve lost, I am ordering that all United States and State of Maine flags remain lowered through sunset on Friday, November 17th – an additional eighteen days to honor each person taken from us by this unspeakable tragedy.
My heart continues to go out to anyone who has lost a loved one. Know that, while the manhunt has ended, the search for justice continues.
To that end, the Maine State Police are continuing their thorough investigation to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding these attacks so that we can bring what closure we may to the victims and their families and to the community at large.
As that investigation continues, my Administration has worked with the Office of the Attorney General, the FBI, and the Red Cross to establish the Family Assistance Center at the Lewiston Armory at 65 Central Ave in Lewiston, as a space where victims and their families can access comprehensive services, like mental health counseling, financial aid, spiritual care, and victim advocacy services.
We have also launched a Mental Health Assistance Center, located at the Ramada Inn at 490 Pleasant Street in Lewiston, to provide counseling support for the broader community.
My Administration has also created a dedicated webpage of behavioral health resources, including suggestions on how to talk to your children about what happened. You can view that website at Maine.Gov Slash D-H-H-S. (https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/).
My Administration remains in close contact with Lewiston schools, and schools in the surrounding areas, to ensure that they have full access to the services and supports for their students and staff.
As students return to school, clinicians and counselors are available to support them.
We also remain in touch with hospitals and health care providers to check-in on the well-being of their incredible staff.
Tomorrow, the Department of Health and Human Services will launch an online form that will allow communities or organizations to request special behavioral health help, such as on-site mental health clinics or support tailored for different communities. If you are an individual who needs help, don’t wait — you can call 9-8-8.
I also recognize that this tragedy has been difficult on small businesses, particularly those in Lewiston/Auburn and surrounding areas, who are an important part of their communities and who remained closed during the shelter-in-place order to allow law enforcement to do their work.
My Administration, through the Department of Economic and Community Development, will be reaching out to you in the coming days and working with the federal Small Business Administration and the Lewiston Auburn Chamber of Commerce to assess any financial support that may be available to help you through this difficult time.
My office also remains in contact with the White House, and I am pleased to report that, at my request, the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention is in Lewiston today. He will serve as the primary point of contact for my Administration in coordinating the Federal government’s deployment of resources and support.
Those federal resources include people:
- A mobile medic team will be in Maine tomorrow and Wednesday to support first responders and veterans;
- a team from the Department of Justice will be in Maine Wednesday to help victims file for federal compensation, and
- a team from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services arrived in Maine today to support our health care providers.
My Administration’s efforts will evolve as the needs of the community and the needs of our state evolve. Your support throughout all of this will be crucial.
And you are asking: what can I do to help?
Over the weekend, my Administration launched “Healing Together” – an online resource that identifies places accepting financial donations to support victims, families, first responders, and organizations that are helping in wake of last week’s tragic shooting.
At the top, you’ll see “Healing Together: Support for Lewiston.”
Donations you make here will go to the families of victims, those injured, and those directly impacted by the violence.
I urge you to join me in giving what you can and in spreading the word.
An important part of our response in the coming weeks will be to understand exactly what happened and to ask ourselves what changes are needed to protect the safety of Maine people.
My Administration’s focus right now is on fully investigating and understanding the facts and circumstances that led to last week’s tragedy and ensuring that the families of the victims, those who are recovering, and those who are struggling in Lewiston and throughout Maine are supported during this difficult time.
But, as we begin to travel down the long and difficult road to recovery, make no mistake, I believe the people of Maine deserve a serious and robust conversation about gun violence and public safety at the State and Federal levels in the coming weeks.
To that end, I want to bring together legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, along with public safety officials, public health officials, members of the judicial system, advocates, psychiatrists, community members, and others for a thoughtful and comprehensive discussion.
I believe action is needed – what that action will be must be the product of a broad discussion among a diverse group of voices.
The people of Maine deserve this.
Now, before I close, I want to acknowledge that many of us have been feeling a range of emotions: from shock to sadness; from anxiety to fear; from grief to anger.
I have felt many of these emotions myself over the past several days, and I am sure we will all feel these things in the coming days.
I want Maine people to know this: if you feel this way, that is okay.
Each of us feels differently. Each person mourns differently. Each person grieves differently.
But what is not different – what each of us has in common – is that we are not alone.
We are not alone in our feelings; in our mourning; in our grieving.
These last five days have shown that the exact opposite is true; that we are together; that we are here for each other, that we are here for you.
For we are carrying a heavy pain, but that burden is made lighter when we carry it together.
From this day on, struggling as we may, let us wrap our arms around one another, offering comfort, compassion, solace, and love.
We will heal together.
Thank you. May God bless the people of Lewiston and the people of Maine.