An insurance agency in Maine has found itself facing backlash after it put up a “racist” sign on Juneteenth, NPR reported.
A sign taped to Millinocket-based insurance agency Harry E Reed Insurance Agency, which is affiliated with Progressive Insurance, said the business was closed for the day, and told visitors to “enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens”.
Progressive confirmed to Insurance Business that it will be terminating the relationship with the insurance agency.
A Progressive spokesperson said: “We’re aware and appalled by the sign recently posted at the Harry E Reed Agency and are terminating our relationship with the agency. At Progressive, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are fundamental to our Core Values.
“We’re committed to creating an environment where our people feel welcomed, valued and respected and expect that anyone representing Progressive to take part in this commitment. The sign is in direct violation of that commitment and doesn’t align with our company’s core values and code of conduct.”
An image of the racist sign, shared on Monday, caused outrage on social media.
Allura Stillwagon, who shared the sign with her online following, told NPR: "I had to read it more than once because I thought it was something [my mom] saw on Facebook. But when she said it was a business [in town], I was immediately disgusted.”
"People have this idea that Maine isn't very racist and that it's pretty liberal. But up north, it's not like that at all,” Stillwagon said.
Harry E Reed did not respond to a request for comment, NPR reported.
In a statement on Tuesday, Steve Golieb, chair of Millinocket Town Council, condemned the sign as a “blatant disregard of human decency”.
“It is deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable for any person to attempt to make light of Juneteenth and what it represents for millions of slaves and their living descendants,” Golieb said.
Millinocket is a “beautiful place to live,” Golieb said, and the town “does not accept or endorse anything short of inclusivity”.
Juneteenth is a federal US holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, celebrated on June 19.