Maine insurance agency gets online backlash after racist Juneteenth sign

Google Earth view from Reed Agency in Millinocket, Maine.

Google Earth

An insurance agency in Millinocket, Maine, is facing online retaliation after a photo circulated on Facebook of a sign taped to the company’s door on Monday, saying, “Good evening ~ it’s something … We are closed Enjoy your fried chicken & collard greens ”

The image of the sign at Harry E Reed Insurance Agency, an affiliate of National Insurer Progressive, was originally shared by a Facebook user named Alura Stillwagon, with the caption “the racism in Millinocket is real.” The original post has been shared more than 100 times.

“I’m not angry. Anger gets you nowhere. I’m just deeply, deeply disappointed,” another Facebook user, Ken Anderson, commented on the post. “In this business, in the businesses that make this business crumble, and in the city of Millinocket, in the state of Maine, and the whole damn country. Deeply disappointed. Why? Because I know that. we can do better. But we’re not trying. And that’s 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 announced the end of slavery to more than 250,000 black people who also after the signing of the emancipation in slavery, Proclamation continued in 1863, according to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Since the sign’s image began to circulate online, people have taken to the online rating site Yelp to condemn the insurance agency, disabling Yelp’s ability for users to place on the company’s page.

“This company recently received increased public attention, which resulted in an influx of people posting their views on this site, so we have temporarily disabled the ability to post here as we work to research the content,” a warning on Yelp from the Harry E Reed Insurance Agency’s Yelp page. “While racism has no place on Yelp and we reject racism or discrimination in any form, all reviews on Yelp should reflect a true first-hand consumer experience (even if that means disabling users’ ability to express views). , we can agree) with). “

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

Jeff Sibel, a spokesman for Progressive, said in a statement, “We are aware and surprised by the sign recently posted at the Harry E Reed Agency and ending our relationship with the agency.”

At Progressive, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are fundamental to our core values. We are committed to creating an environment where our people feel welcome, valued and respected and expect everyone who represents Progressive to participate “The sign is in direct violation of that promise and does not comply with our company’s Core Values ​​and Code of Conduct,” Sibel said in a statement.

Millinocket’s Town Council chairman Steve Golieb on Tuesday issued a statement accusing the sign.

“It is deeply saddening, shameful and unacceptable for any person, company or organization to try to shed light on Juneteenth and what it represents for millions of slaves and their living descendants,” Golieb’s said. “There is no place in the Town of Millinocket for such blatant contempt for human decency.”

The insurance office did not respond to requests for comment.

President Joe Biden and the State of Maine signed each bill in June 2021 Juneteenth as a federal and state party.

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