Maine insurance agency faces online backlash after racist

Google Earth see of Reed Company in Millinocket, Maine.

Google Earth

An insurance policy company in Millinocket, Maine, is dealing with on-line backlash following a image circulated on Fb of a sign taped to the business’s doorway on Monday expressing, “Juneteenth ~it can be what ever… We’re shut. Enjoy your fried hen & collard greens.”

The picture of the signal at the Harry E. Reed Insurance policies Agency, an affiliate of nationwide insurer Progressive, was at first shared by a Facebook person named Alura Stillwagon, with the caption, “The racism in Millinocket is actual.” The original write-up has been shared far more than 200 times, while a comparable post by a different person has been shared far more than 10,000 times.

“I am not indignant. Anger will get you nowhere. I am just deeply, deeply disappointed,” an additional Facebook user, Ken Anderson, commented on the publish. “In this company, in the companies that permit this business enterprise broker their products and solutions, and in the town of Millinocket, in the state of Maine, and the entire damn country. Deeply dissatisfied. Why? Since I know we can do much better. But we are not making an attempt. And that is the component that cuts deepest.”

For a lot of enterprises, Monday marked the observance of Juneteenth, a federal vacation that commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Army soldiers arrived in Texas and introduced the close of slavery to far more than 250,000 Black individuals who remained enslaved even following the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, in accordance to the National Museum of African American Record and Culture.

The insurance policy company did not answer to CNBC’s requests for remark, but Melanie Higgins explained to Information Center Maine she was the employee who posted the indicator and apologized.

“I would by no means purposely established out to harm everyone and I would in no way purposely established out to hurt my mom’s enterprise at all. She had nothing to do with this,” Higgins claimed. “I really apologize.”

Because the image of the sign started circulating online, men and women have taken to on the net evaluate site Yelp to condemn the insurance agency, prompting Yelp to disable users’ means to submit on the company’s site.

“This enterprise recently received improved public consideration ensuing in an inflow of persons posting their sights to this web site, so we have quickly disabled the ability to write-up listed here as we operate to examine the content,” an inform on the Harry E. Reed Coverage Agency’s Yelp web page reads. “Even though racism has no place on Yelp and we unequivocally reject racism or discrimination in any kind, all reviews on Yelp should replicate an precise initially-hand shopper encounter (even if that signifies disabling the capacity for customers to categorical factors of look at we might agree with).”

The company obtained practically 90 — mainly a single-star — Yelp opinions, with lots of posters condemning the insurance company as “racist.”

Jeff Sibel, a spokesperson for Progressive, reported in a statement, “We’re informed and appalled by the indicator not too long ago posted at the Harry E Reed Agency and are terminating our partnership with the company.”

“At Progressive, Range, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are essential to our Main Values. We’re fully commited to creating an natural environment the place our persons experience welcomed, valued and respected and assume that everyone representing Progressive to get element in this motivation. The indication is in immediate violation of that motivation and would not align with our company’s Core Values and Code of Perform,” Sibel said in a assertion.

The chair of the Millinocket Town Council, Steve Golieb, produced a statement Tuesday denouncing the signal.

“It is deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable for any human being, business enterprise or organization to endeavor to make light-weight of Juneteenth and what it signifies for thousands and thousands of slaves and their dwelling descendants,” Golieb wrote. “There is no area in the City of Millinocket for these types of a blatant disregard of human decency.”

President Joe Biden and the point out of Maine every single signed expenditures into regulation in June 2021 recognizing Juneteenth as a federal and state getaway.

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