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Maine insurance agency faces online backlash after racist Juneteenth sign

Google Earth view of Reed agency in Millinocket, Maine.

Google Earth

An insurance agency in Millinocket, Maine, faced a web-based backlash after posting on Facebook an image of an indication stuck to the corporate’s door on Monday that read: “Juneteenth ~ never mind… We’re closed. Enjoy fried chicken and kale salad. “.

An image of the mark on the Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency, a subsidiary of the national insurer Progressivewas originally shared by Facebook user named Alura Stillwagon, with the caption “Racism in Millinocket is real”. The original post was shared greater than 200 times, although one other user’s similar post was shared greater than 10,000 times.

“I’m not indignant. Anger won’t get you anywhere. I’m just deeply, deeply disillusioned.” one other Facebook user, Ken Anderson, commented on the post. “In this business, in the businesses that allow this business broker their products, in the town of Millinocket, Maine, and everywhere in the rattling country. Deeply disillusioned. Why? Because I do know we will do more. “You’re not trying. And that is the part that cuts the deepest.”

For many businesses, Monday marked the celebration of Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating June 19, 1865, when Union Army soldiers arrived in Texas and declared the tip of slavery for over 250,000 black individuals who remained slaves even after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, in keeping with the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The insurance agency didn’t reply to CNBC’s requests for comment, but told Melanie Higgins Maine Information Center she was the worker who put up the sign and apologized.

“I never intentionally desired to hurt anyone, and I never intentionally desired to harm my mother’s business. She had nothing to do with it,” Higgins said. “Really sorry”.

Ever because the image of the mark began circulating online, people have turned to a web-based review site Whine condemn the insurance agency by encouraging Yelp to disable users ability post on the corporate website.

“This company has recently gained more public attention, leading to an influx of individuals posting their reviews on this site, so we have temporarily disabled posting here as we work to analyze the content,” a warning from Harry E. Reed’s insurance agency Yelp page reads. “While racism has no place on Yelp, and we unequivocally reject racism or discrimination in any form, all reviews on Yelp must reflect the actual first-hand experience of consumers (even when meaning stopping users from expressing points of view we’d agree with). “

The agency received nearly 90 — mostly one-star — Yelp reviews, with many posters denouncing the insurance agency as “racist.”

Jeff Sibel, a spokesman for Progressive, said in an announcement: “We are aware of and appalled by the sign recently placed on the Harry E Reed agency and are ending our relationship with the agency.”

“At Progressive, Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) are fundamental to our core values. We are committed to creating an environment where our employees feel welcome, valued and revered, and we expect everyone representing Progressive to share on this commitment. the mark directly violates this commitment and doesn’t align with our company’s core values ​​and code of conduct,” Sibel said in an announcement.

Millinocket City Council Chairman, Steve Golieb, issued an announcement on Tuesday condemnation of the sign.

“It is deeply saddening, shameful and unacceptable for any person, company or organization to try to disregard Juneteenth and what it represents to thousands and thousands of slaves and their living descendants,” Golieb wrote. “There isn’t any room for such a blatant disregard for human decency in Millinocket Town.”

President Joe Biden and the state Maine everyone signed bills went into effect in June 2021, recognizing Juneteenth as a federal and state holiday.

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