Swinging Gate Organization Holds Activist Training in Orrington
A political activist organization held a private meeting in Orrington over the weekend, sparking conversation and controversy about its intentions.
The Swinging Gate is headed by former State Representative Dick Campbell, who has also had a hand in organizing several peaceful protests and rallies, in recent months. According to the organization's website, they are a "loosely bound organization of separate people whose mission it is to get our government to operate within the bounds of the Constitution."
On Saturday, the group held "activist training" at the Calvary Chapel in Orrington, sparking a spirited debate on the town's Facebook sites. Residents were concerned that the purpose of the meeting was to train people to behave as the protestors did in Washington, D.C. as they stormed the Capitol. Others feared it had violent intentions and that it wasn't what the community needed. And, in fact, the fliers promoting the event contained the line "It's Time to Fight."
Campbell told WVII-TV it wasn't about violence, but rather about peaceful activism. He said they educated the attendees on the legislative process and how a bill becomes a law. They talked about how citizens can affect the process by notifying legislators and having their voices heard. He says the organization is not a reaction to what happened in Washington and is not supportive of that event.
The name "Swinging Gate" is in homage to Joshua Chamberlain, but touched a raw nerve in one of his descendants, who called it a "permanent stain on Joshua Chamberlain's legacy," in a Facebook post. Marsh Chamberlain demanded Joshua Chamberlain's name be removed from any association with the group that's headed by Campbell and John Linnehan. Campbell says he regrets that the name upset anyone, because it's meant to be an "admiration of a person who got things done."