Being part of the story: #1

This story, and the next one I post, may be the strangest series of events that I ever encountered as a reporter. Someone planted a bomb in the offices of the Central Maine Power Co. in Augusta, Maine one day in 1976 — not exactly a common situation in rural Maine. The next day my office phone rang, and a voice said: “This is the Fred Hampton Unit of the People’s Forces.” The man, speaking quickly and allowing no opportunity for questions, claimed credit for the CMP bombing and hung up. I stood there with the dead phone in my hand for a minute or so, not knowing what to do. An operator finally came on the line and asked, “Are you through, sir?” I told her not to disconnect the line and that the FBI would be calling her directly. She gave me a number to call, and I called the FBI in Portland and told them what happened. The call was traced to a phone booth in South Portland. The bombers were part of a left-wing cell of radical former prison inmates who spent several months planning and carrying out a number of bombings in New England. When we think of terrorists, we tend to think of the events of 9/11 and thereafter. But terrorism has been with us for many, many years.



PORTLAND, Maine (UPI) – The composite picture which had been prepared by an FBI artist did the trick.

The new Central Maine Power Co. offices on Edison Drive in Augusta had been rocked by two blasts on May 11.

Injuries were avoided only because the workers were evacuated after a threat had been telephoned to the CMP switchboard just moments before the blast.

Letters left at the a Kennebec Journal and mailed to UPI indicated that the bombings had been carried out by the Fred Hampton Unit of the Peoples Forces, a self-styled revolutionary group which claimed that CMP was singled out because of its efforts to secure a rate increase from the Public Utilities Commission.

The day after the bombing, a person identifying himself as a member of the Fred Hampton Unit called UPI. The call was traced to a telephone booth outside a Howard Johnson’s restaurant in South Portland.

FBI agents from Augusta, Portland and Boston arrived at the CMP offices and began sifting through rubble and interviewing workers. The letters and pieces of the debris from the bombing were sent to the FBI laboratory in Washington.

The FBI agents began interviewing workers at the CMP offices. Some of the workers recalled seeing two young men walking around the new building several hours before the bombs went off.

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