Racist Juneteenth sign at Maine insurance agency sparks

Citizens in Millinocket, Maine, say they are outraged immediately after an insurance agency exhibited a racist indicator remarking on the new Juneteenth federal holiday.

Lisa Groelly

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Lisa Groelly

Inhabitants in Millinocket, Maine, say they are outraged just after an insurance agency exhibited a racist indicator remarking on the new Juneteenth federal holiday break.

Lisa Groelly

People in the town of Millinocket, Maine, say they are outraged and unhappy after a community insurance plan agency exhibited a racist indication remarking on the Juneteenth getaway. Progressive and Allstate are terminating their associations with the agency, according to representatives of the insurance policy organizations.

“Juneteenth ~it is really regardless of what… We’re closed. Love your fried chicken & collard greens,” the indicator mentioned in a massive font. It was taped to the front of Harry E. Reed Insurance policies Company in Millinocket on Monday. The smaller town sits about a few hours outside the house Portland and some 50 miles away from the U.S.-Canada border.

An graphic of the racist sign was shared on the internet Monday, gaining the awareness of thousands throughout social media.

The insurance agency has faced weighty criticism on the internet, with persons leaving one particular-star evaluations on Google and Yelp, some of which have considering that been eradicated.

One evaluate written on Yelp says: “@Progressive – is this actually a corporation that you want symbolizing you? Or is Progressive a enterprise that believes in racism?”

Progressive spokesperson Jeff Sibel wrote in an e-mail that the organization is “informed and appalled by the indicator” and that it is terminating its connection with the company.

“At Progressive, Range, Fairness and Inclusion (DEI) are basic to our Main Values. We are dedicated to creating an atmosphere where our people today come to feel welcomed, valued and highly regarded and anticipate that anybody symbolizing Progressive to just take aspect in this determination,” Sibel wrote. “The signal is in immediate violation of that determination and doesn’t align with our company’s Core Values and Code of Conduct.”

The Harry E. Reed Insurance Company did not react to NPR’s ask for for comment.

Millinocket resident Alura Stillwagon initially posted the impression on Fb with a caption studying, “The racism in Millinocket is serious.”

Stillwagon, who initially heard about the sign from her mother, Lisa Groelly, says she had to do a double choose when looking at an picture of it.

“I experienced to read it additional than when due to the fact I assumed it was one thing [my mom] observed on Facebook. But when she stated it was a organization [in town], I was quickly disgusted,” Stillwagon instructed NPR. “Persons have this strategy that Maine isn’t incredibly racist and that it is really quite liberal. But up north, it can be not like that at all.”

Groelly, who lives in Millinocket, says when her pal instructed her about the signal displayed exterior the business enterprise, she was speechless, wondering it ought to have been a joke.

“I’m hoping that people will wake up and notice that this is not Alright. Individuals need to have to know their history. They need to have to understand that there was a great deal of suffering and that this holiday getaway is warranted — and it truly is required,” reported Groelly in an interview with NPR.

Steve Golieb, chair of the Millinocket Town Council, released a assertion on Tuesday regarding the incident:

“It is deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable for any individual, small business, or business to endeavor to make mild of Juneteenth and what it represents for millions of slaves and their dwelling descendants,” Golieb stated in his assertion. “There is no location in the City of Millinocket for these kinds of a blatant disregard of human decency.”

Allstate explained in a assertion to NPR on Wednesday: “We are terminating our contract with this unbiased agent. Our motivation to Inclusive Diversity and Equity is non-negotiable and we choose action when persons violate our code of carry out.”

The state of Maine celebrated Juneteenth as an official vacation for the 1st time on Monday. Governor Janet Mills signed a monthly bill into law last year declaring the yearly commemoration a paid point out getaway. This thirty day period, Mills signed a proclamation declaring June 19 as Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is an once-a-year commemoration celebrated on June 19 that marks the United States’ 2nd independence working day.

On this day in 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger — who had fought for the Union — arrived at Galveston, Texas, with nearly 2,000 troops to announce that the far more than 250,000 enslaved Black individuals in the state ended up ultimately totally free.

President Biden signed a bill in 2021 to identify Juneteenth as a federal holiday.