It feels like often when Governor Paul LePage speaks, there is a controversy. Sometimes it’s a genuine controversy with reasonable outrage, because he does have a tendency to speak before thinking about the words that come out of his mouth. But other times, the controversy is manufactured and partisan, with political enemies disingenuously hitting his butchered comments.
Another controversy is here.
At a recent Town Hall in North Berwick, he made these comments:
“Let me tell you this, explain to you, I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state. I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Conn., the Bronx and Brooklyn.”
The comments came in response to a question from a New York businessman that implied he specifically escalates rhetoric about “people of color in Maine.”
The immediate response from Democrats and liberals across Maine was a cry for racism. The accusation is that Governor LePage is a racist who hates black people and hispanics, he’s specifically labeling them all as drug dealers, etc.
This wasn’t the case.
Governor LePage didn’t say all black people are drug dealers and he didn’t say all hispanics are drug dealers. He said he’s been tracking those who have been arrested and a large number of them are either black or hispanic, and from out of state.
Thus the honest thing for leftwing partisans to do at this point would be to question the actual quote and not twist it. Is there a race gap in arrests relating to drug crimes?
The study shows that in Maine, black people are more likely to be arrested for drug related crimes. Citing a study published by USA Today, the organization spoke out against the gap. In Auburn, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested, while 3.5 times more likely in South Portland, 3.2 times more likely in Bangor, 2.8 times more likely in Lewiston, and 2.6 times more likely in Portland.
The American Civil Liberties itself also conducted a study showing the War on Marijuana is targeting black people. Among more than 8 million marijuana related arrests across the country between 2001 and 2010, blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested despite using the drug as much as whites.
Thus, at this point, the problem is not Governor LePage. Governor LePage stated he has been maintaining a binder full of those arrested for drug-related crimes in Maine. In that binder, he stated there is a high number of blacks and hispanics. He didn’t state that all blacks and hispanics were drug dealers and he didn’t say that most drug dealers were black or hispanic.
Instead, Governor LePage proved the point the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine made and they proved his point. There is an issue of race, but it relates to culture and not our Governor. The organization in their study noted a series of policies that are far beyond the Governor that show why the number of people showing up in his binder are black and hispanic.
Don’t shoot the messenger, Maine. If there’s a race problem in Maine, it’s not with the Governor.