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Mainers Take Stand Against Racism and Hate

Responding to the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., Mainers turned out Sunday to take a stand against racism and white supremacy. (Maine People's Alliance)
Responding to the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., Mainers turned out Sunday to take a stand against racism and white supremacy. (Maine People's Alliance)
August 21, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine -- Mainers took a stand against racism and white supremacy on Sunday, gathering in Payson Park in Portland on Sunday, to mourn the three lives lost in Charlottesville, Virginia, and to send a message against racism and white supremacy.

Local unions co-sponsored the action, which was called in response to what organizers referred to as the "hateful and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis" in Charlottesville.

Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney said racism has long been a tool used to pit working people against one another. She said the time has come for that to stop.

"It furthers hatred and it furthers division, and it's hard for workers to get what they need,” Phinney said. "And we don't think that these voices that are in the news are actually the voices of the majority. In fact, we're quite sure that they aren't."

Those gathered mourned the deaths of Heather Heyer, the young woman who was killed by a Nazi sympathizer, and the two Virginia state troopers who died when their helicopter crash.

At least a dozen Mainers also took part in a protest in Boston on Saturday where counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the white nationalists on Boston Common.

Phinney said both Gov. Paul LePage and President Donald Trump need to unequivocally reject white supremacy and racism. She said both men's statements in support of Confederate monuments sends the wrong signal.

"Increasingly, they are symbols of something that isn't really what our country is about, and it's an important discussion to have,” she said. "And I'm really disappointed that our governor came out the way he did, along with, certainly, the president of our country."

In comments to Portland radio station WGAN on Thursday, Gov. LePage echoed President Trump's remarks that both sides were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville. LePage went on to equate the removal of Confederate monuments to losing the 9/11 memorial.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME