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LePage's "White Girls" Apology Appears to Fall Short

Governor Paul LePage issued an apology Friday, but Maine organizers says it fell short of meeting the charge that he had injected race into a critical issue, dealing with the heroin epidemic. (Governor's Office Photo)
Governor Paul LePage issued an apology Friday, but Maine organizers says it fell short of meeting the charge that he had injected race into a critical issue, dealing with the heroin epidemic. (Governor's Office Photo)
January 11, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine - Governor Paul LePage says it was a slip of the tongue, but local organizers say his apology falls short when it comes to the charge that he injected race into the discussion of the state's heroin epidemic.

Portland human-rights organizer Cait Vaughan says there is a pattern to so-called slips of the tongue by the governor. LePage first makes a disparaging comment, and then, she says, his policies follow along the same lines.

"To me an apology is not meaningful in the context of the political moves and vision he has for our state - which is anti-immigrant, anti-poor people and anti-black," says Vaughan.

LePage apologized Friday for remarks in which he described drug dealers with black street names. LePage said they come to Maine and "half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave." LePage now says reporters were unfair in the way they focused on his comment.

Lewiston multi-racial tenant's-rights organizer Melissa Dunn says, apology or not, the kind of comments the governor made last week put people of color at risk in Maine.

"The truth is, our governor's very words polarizes brown-skinned people like myself," says Dunn. "The implication for a person of color - will not be able to drive around freely in our state without being scrutinized, or even worse, assaulted, or death."

Vaughan says the comments are especially hurtful in light of the fact that LePage also is cutting funding for public assistance and treatment programs that help Mainers who are dealing with addiction.

"Instead of being responsible and seeing the root problems of this addiction crisis; he is instead making dangerous, racist comments," Vaughan says.

The head of the Bangor chapter of the NAACP minced no words when it came to LePage's comments. In published reports, Michael Alpert called them "sad" and "foolish."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME