January 29, 2023


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Maine insurance agency slammed for racist Juneteenth message

The Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency in Millinocket, Maine, faced backlash over a racist sign posted in its window.

The Harry E. Reed Insurance policy Company in Millinocket, Maine, faced backlash more than a racist indicator posted in its window.


A business in Maine is struggling with backlash in excess of a racist indication posted in its window on Juneteenth.

“Juneteenth ~it’s whatever…” the indicator stated. “We’re shut. Take pleasure in your fried hen & collard greens.”

A image of the signal, taped to the front of the Harry E. Reed Coverage Agency in Millinocket, was shared on Facebook on Monday, June 20, by a resident of the town, Alura Stillwagon, who explained “the racism in Millinocket is actual.”

The agency did not instantly answer to a ask for for remark from McClatchy Information.

A spokesman for Progressive, which is affiliated with the agency, explained to NPR that the firm is “aware and appalled by the indication.”

“At Progressive, Variety, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are essential to our Main Values. We’re fully commited to producing an natural environment the place our individuals come to feel welcomed, valued and revered and be expecting that anyone symbolizing Progressive to take component in this motivation,” Jeff Sibel advised the outlet. “The indicator is in direct violation of that determination and does not align with our company’s Main Values and Code of Carry out.”

Stillwagon’s mom, Lisa Groelly, explained to her about the indicator, NPR documented.

“I experienced to study it extra than after mainly because I thought it was some thing [my mom] noticed on Facebook,” Stillwagon informed the outlet. “But when she stated it was a business enterprise [in town], I was instantly disgusted. Men and women have this idea that Maine isn’t incredibly racist and that it’s quite liberal. But up north, it’s not like that at all.”

The business’ information was speedily condemned by city officials and residents of the town.

Millinocket City Council Chair Steve Golieb resolved the subject in a June 21 statement, stating it’s “deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable” for any person to “make light-weight of Juneteenth and what it signifies for thousands and thousands of slaves and their living descendants.”

“There is no location in the Town of Millinocket for this sort of a blatant disregard of human decency,” the statement said.

Adverse assessments for the agency also began pouring in on Yelp and Google Testimonials.

As of June 22, the company has two stars on Google. Its Yelp page, which has 84 evaluations and a single star, displays an inform expressing that the business has lately obtained damaging general public awareness and an influx of new testimonials.

“We have temporarily disabled the means to write-up in this article as we work to look into the content,” Yelp said on the business’ web site. “While racism has no position on Yelp and we unequivocally reject racism or discrimination in any kind, all critiques on Yelp need to reflect an real 1st-hand client expertise (even if that implies disabling the ability for end users to convey factors of see we may agree with).”

Most of the business’ existing Yelp opinions reference the indication and criticize the enterprise for publishing it.

The incident is a reminder that Maine isn’t eradicated from its record, University of Maine historical past professor Mary Freeman told the Bangor Day by day News.

“The point that this person could build a signal that does not use an evident racial slur, but continue to gets its message throughout by drawing on these kinds of associations and photographs that have experienced a racist affiliation in American society again reveals how Maine is not so considerably taken off from this background,” Freeman instructed the outlet.

Groelly, the mother of the Facebook user who initially shared photographs of the indication, explained to NPR that she hopes the incident is a wake-up phone to residents of the town.

“People want to know their background. They want to notice that there was a large amount of struggling and that this vacation is warranted — and it’s wanted,” Groelly instructed the outlet.

Juneteenth, celebrated nationally on June 19, was observed as a federal getaway on June 20 this yr. The celebration became a federally recognized vacation in 2021 and commemorates the anniversary of when above 250,000 enslaved Individuals in Texas acquired word in Galveston that they have been free of charge by government decree, in accordance to the Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of African American Background & Culture.

The holiday getaway has been celebrated by Black communities in the U.S. considering that 1865, but only recently turned a federal holiday when it acquired renewed countrywide consideration next the murder of George Floyd on May perhaps 25, 2020, McClatchy Information claimed.

This tale was originally printed June 22, 2022 3:46 PM.

Vandana Ravikumar is a McClatchy Genuine-Time reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at Arizona Condition University. Beforehand, she noted for United states Today, The Dallas Early morning Information, and Arizona PBS.