The recurring police-involved killings of Black men and women continue to raise concerns about the way African-Americans are perceived by law enforcement, but one person who isn’t contributing anything progressive to the conversation is Maine Governor Paul LePage.
Governor LePage put his foot even further in his mouth on Friday while attempting to justify racially offensive statements he made earlier this year, which included a reference to his binder full of drug dealers’ mugshots he keeps for his records. Despite the blaring fact that nearly 95 percent of the population in Maine is white, LePage claimed 90 percent of the photos included in the binder were of Black or Hispanic people. Taking his careless commentary a step further, the governor emphasized his belief that Maine police were not racially profiling people.
As a basis for his argument, he said it’s not his fault that the majority of people allegedly committing crimes in Maine are Black or Hispanic.
“Look, a bad guy is a bad guy, I don’t care what color it is,” the governor said, during a press conference on Friday. “When you go to war, if you know the enemy, the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, you shoot at red, don’t you? You shoot at the enemy.”
He went on to explicitly refer to people of color as “the enemy.”
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“You try to identify the enemy. And the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority right now coming in are people of color or people of Hispanic origin. I can’t help that. I just can’t help it. Those are the facts.”
Maine ACLU Executive Director Alison Beyea pointed out the obvious disparities in Governor LePage’s claims and confirmed the highly likely possibility that racial profiling does indeed play a huge role in the reasoning behind his findings.
“According to the governor, Maine police are nine times more likely to arrest people of color for selling drugs than white people, even though we know white people are just as likely to commit drug offenses,” Beyea said in a statement. “This alarming disparity in arrests raises significant concerns that Maine law enforcement is participating in unconstitutional racial profiling.”
The governor’s comments perfectly illustrate the type of mindset that has fueled the fire in the police brutality epidemic that has continuously plagued Black communities across the country. Giving men like LePage a public platform and appointing him to a public office will only serve to amplify the voices of those looking to keep people of color oppressed and the country divided.