Maine Governor Paul LePage said at a town hall meeting on Wednesday night in North Berwick that he keeps a binder of photos of arrested drug dealers, and that “90-plus per cent…are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Conn., the Bronx and Brooklyn,” according to the Portland Press Herald.
The comment came after LePage was asked by businessman Andrew Ritchie about the “toxic environment” he has created and fuelled with his comments on people of colour, according to audio from the Portland Press Herald.
Here’s our transcript of the exchange [emphasis ours]:
Andrew Ritchie: As you know, Maine has a problem with “brain drain” and I’m just wondering … I’m currently an entrepreneur in New York now … I just wanted to know, given the rhetoric you put out there about people of colour in Maine, calling them drug dealers et cetera, how can I bring a company here given the toxic environment you create? The confederate flags I see up there … that I used to not see so many of.
Gov. LePage: Confederate flag?
[inaudible from someone else at the event]
Ritchie: Well, I see on his Facebook … I see replies to you … It seems like you are creating an environment where people feel …
LePage: First of all, sir. You don’t see that stuff on my Facebook.
Ritchie: In the comments section.
LePage: Oh the comments section? You are welcome to make any comment you want. Let me tell you this, explain to you, I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state … Sir, you are welcome to come look at them. You are welcome to come look at them. I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus per cent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. I don’t make the rules. I’m going to tell you what’s happening. Now, you can call it …
Ritchie: Well, there are white drug dealers too. Maybe your police are profiling.
LePage: No, there are white. There are a whole lot of white girls too. A whole lot of white girls. In fact, almost in every single picture is a white Maine girl in the picture. I’m not suggesting, but I am telling
Ritchie: You suggest …
LePage: I’m suggesting that the heroin being distributed in Maine is essentially coming from Connecticut and New York. You say white, black, or purple, green, white, or orange. The fact of the matter is people from Connecticut and people from New York are coming to Maine and they are killing our citizens. I’m sorry, but that’s a fact.
LePage’s remarks at the town hall are the latest in a string of comments the governor has made that have been perceived as racist or inflammatory.
Earlier this year, LePage said that drug dealers with nicknames like “D-Money, Smoothie, and Shifty” come to Maine to sell drugs and “half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave.”
His comments drew strong criticism from activist groups, as well as from elected officials. Hillary Clinton’s campaign called the remarks “offensive and hurtful” and claimed the governor was glossing over the drug epidemic by making racially-tinged statements.
On Thursday, LePage left an explicit voicemail for Democratic State Representative Drew Gattine challenging Gattine to “prove that I’m a racist.” He also challenged Gattine to a duel, according to the Portland Press Herald.
“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” LePage told a reporter from the Press Herald. “And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.”
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