Coronavirus: Armed vigilantes use tree to barricade man in his home because of New Jersey plates

‘A neighbour started yelling at him and a group of people showed up and began to gather around’

James Crump
Monday 30 March 2020 16:45 BST
Vinalhaven, an island just off of Maine
Vinalhaven, an island just off of Maine

A group of men were forced to stay inside their home by armed residents who suspected them to have coronavirus, after seeing their car had New Jersey license plates, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

The group from New Jersey had been working on a construction site since September on Vinalhaven, an island off of Maine, but had left briefly earlier in the year.

They returned over a month ago, but local residents felt that because they had been away from the island, they needed to be quarantined.

The residents then cut down a tree and dragged it on to the road, acting as a barrier for the men.

One of the group left the house to check on their faulty cable and saw the tree on the road.

“While investigating the downed tree, a neighbour started yelling at him and a group of people showed up and began to gather around. Believing the group may be there to harm him, (he) fled to his residence and told his roommates what he had found,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in a now deleted post.

Once inside he called the authorities, while the others in the house checked on the residents’ actions with a drone.

Knox County Sheriff’s Office deleted their original post detailing the incident and explained in a comment that they made the decision because the behaviour of those in the comments section was not acceptable.

State representative Genevieve McDonald posted on Facebook, confirming that she disagreed with the resident’s actions.

“Except for in the most extreme circumstances, we do not have the authority to control the movement of US citizens within our borders, and frankly, I’m concerned about the number of people who are eager to hand their rights over to the government,” she said.

“Stay home, wash your hands, don’t talk to strangers, and don’t waste the time of our first responders.”

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, upwards of 143,055 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached at least 2,513.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a two-week ban on gatherings of more than 50 people as part of the battle to contain the spread of the contagion.

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