Portland – The ACLU of Maine echoed the calls of the nationwide ACLU and the ACLU of Minnesota for an independent and transparent investigation following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police Monday evening.

The ACLU of Maine also called on Maine law enforcement agencies to recognize, condemn, and work to fix the systemic racism and excessive force that too often leads to the deaths of Black people at the hands of police officers.

The following can be attributed to Alison Beyea, executive director at the ACLU of Maine:

“Police departments around the country have been silent about the unnecessary killings of Black people for far too long, so we are glad the Portland Police Department made this public statement. They, like us, are rightfully appalled at what happened and we hope this unified call will lead to justice for George Floyd and his family.

“At the same time, we wish the PPD and all Maine law enforcement would recognize and condemn the systemic racism that makes these killings so commonplace. Policies and protocols and training are important, but they won’t stop people from being killed until we address the root of the problem. 

“We’re also troubled by a continued and pervasive insistence that ‘these things don’t happen in Maine.’ Maine is not immune to systemic racism. In 2018 two white men attacked and beat a black man before chasing him with their truck in Biddeford. The same year a Black man was served a no trespass order at a southern Maine grocery store for simply asking to speak with a manager. Black school children in Maine are disproportionately suspended, expelled, and arrested at school for the same behaviors as their white peers. Even today, Black people in Maine are bearing a far greater impact from COVID-19 than white people. Black people make up over 20 percent of confirmed cases but only 1.6 percent of our total population, and lack access to the necessary testing, personal protective equipment and health care that would prevent such disparities.

“Invariably, Black people in Maine face systemic barriers to education, health care, employment and justice. It will take all of us acknowledging and fighting against racism to prevent the next tragic incident from happening here.”