Augusta – The ACLU of Maine today filed a Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request for records related to the arrest of Black and Hispanic people in Maine. At a town hall meeting in North Berwick last night, Gov. LePage stated he keeps a binder with pictures of “every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state.” He went on to claim that 90 percent of those arrested are Black or Hispanic.
Studies show that Black people and White people use and sell drugs at similar rates. Significant disparities in arrests, such as the nine-to-one disparity suggested by Gov. LePage, can often be attributed to racial profiling by law enforcement.
Racial profiling violates the U.S. Constitution’s core promises of equal protection under the law. Further, the practice alienates communities from law enforcement and causes law enforcement to lose credibility and trust among the people they are sworn to protect and serve.
The following can be attributed to Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine:
“According to the governor, Maine police are nine times more likely to arrest people of color for selling drugs than white people, even though we know white people are just as likely to commit drug offenses. This alarming disparity in arrests raises significant concerns that Maine law enforcement is participating in unconstitutional racial profiling.
Racial profiling goes against the very principles and values on which our country was built. Sadly, the LePage administration does not seem to understand that in this country there is a rulebook for government action, and that rulebook is called the Constitution. The Constitution is clear that our government cannot treat people differently because of the color of their skin. We cannot let our elected official abandon that cherished value.
We look forward to examining the governor’s records so we can get to the bottom of this and hold our elected officials accountable to the Constitution and the rule of law.”
The full text of the ACLU request is available here.