December 10, 2022

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Racist Juneteenth sign at Maine insurance agency sparks

People in Millinocket, Maine, say they are outraged right after an insurance policy company exhibited a racist signal remarking on the new Juneteenth federal vacation.

Lisa Groelly

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Lisa Groelly

Inhabitants in Millinocket, Maine, say they are outraged right after an insurance plan company exhibited a racist sign remarking on the new Juneteenth federal getaway.

Lisa Groelly

People in the city of Millinocket, Maine, say they are outraged and dissatisfied immediately after a neighborhood insurance company exhibited a racist signal remarking on the Juneteenth getaway. Progressive and Allstate are terminating their relationships with the company, in accordance to associates of the insurance providers.

“Juneteenth ~it can be no matter what… We are closed. Get pleasure from your fried hen & collard greens,” the indicator said in a significant font. It was taped to the entrance of Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency in Millinocket on Monday. The compact city sits about three several hours outdoors Portland and some 50 miles absent from the U.S.-Canada border.

An picture of the racist signal was shared on-line Monday, attaining the consideration of countless numbers throughout social media.

The insurance coverage agency has faced heavy criticism online, with folks leaving 1-star critiques on Google and Yelp, some of which have due to the fact been removed.

One review composed on Yelp suggests: “@Progressive – is this truly a firm that you want symbolizing you? Or is Progressive a corporation that believes in racism?”

Progressive spokesperson Jeff Sibel wrote in an email that the enterprise is “aware and appalled by the signal” and that it is terminating its marriage with the agency.

“At Progressive, Range, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are elementary to our Main Values. We’re fully commited to creating an environment in which our men and women come to feel welcomed, valued and respected and count on that any individual symbolizing Progressive to consider section in this determination,” Sibel wrote. “The signal is in immediate violation of that dedication and doesn’t align with our firm’s Core Values and Code of Carry out.”

The Harry E. Reed Insurance coverage Company did not respond to NPR’s request for remark.

Millinocket resident Alura Stillwagon originally posted the graphic on Facebook with a caption examining, “The racism in Millinocket is serious.”

Stillwagon, who 1st listened to about the signal from her mom, Lisa Groelly, states she had to do a double get when observing an graphic of it.

“I experienced to read it far more than as soon as since I thought it was a thing [my mom] saw on Facebook. But when she claimed it was a small business [in town], I was right away disgusted,” Stillwagon informed NPR. “Men and women have this concept that Maine isn’t really quite racist and that it really is very liberal. But up north, it’s not like that at all.”

Groelly, who life in Millinocket, says when her good friend explained to her about the signal exhibited outdoors the organization, she was speechless, imagining it must have been a joke.

“I’m hoping that individuals will wake up and know that this is not Alright. Men and women need to know their heritage. They require to realize that there was a large amount of struggling and that this holiday getaway is warranted — and it is really necessary,” stated Groelly in an job interview with NPR.

Steve Golieb, chair of the Millinocket City Council, introduced a assertion on Tuesday regarding the incident:

“It is deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable for any person, company, or business to try to make light of Juneteenth and what it represents for thousands and thousands of slaves and their living descendants,” Golieb explained in his statement. “There is no place in the Town of Millinocket for this kind of a blatant disregard of human decency.”

Allstate explained in a statement to NPR on Wednesday: “We are terminating our contract with this unbiased agent. Our determination to Inclusive Variety and Equity is non-negotiable and we just take motion when people today violate our code of carry out.”

The condition of Maine celebrated Juneteenth as an formal holiday getaway for the initially time on Monday. Governor Janet Mills signed a monthly bill into regulation past year declaring the yearly commemoration a paid state holiday break. This month, Mills signed a proclamation declaring June 19 as Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is an yearly commemoration celebrated on June 19 that marks the United States’ next independence day.

On this working day in 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger — who experienced fought for the Union — arrived at Galveston, Texas, with approximately 2,000 troops to announce that the extra than 250,000 enslaved Black men and women in the condition ended up lastly free of charge.

President Biden signed a monthly bill in 2021 to figure out Juneteenth as a federal holiday.