Rep. Pingree calls out racism in attacks on assistance for immigrants

Rep. Pingree calls out racism in attacks on assistance for immigrants

Rep. Pingree speaking at the service at Merrill Auditorium

In a powerful speech to more than 1,300 Mainers gathered at Merrill Auditorium in Portland to remember and honor victims of the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, Maine Representative Chellie Pingree discussed the broader influence of racism in national and state culture and politics.

“We can’t pretend that tragedies like these happen in a vacuum,” said Pingree. “I think we all know that racism hasn’t gone away in our country.”

Pingree described her recent visits to Selma, Montgomery and other landmarks of the civil rights movement of the 60s and lamented that, more than 50 years later, the nation was still dealing with many of the same issues.

“This racism is in our lives from the simplest comments and how we treat each other, to the conversations and laws made in our State House,” said Pingree. “Right here in our state there are some who think that families that have fled violence and persecution in their war-torn countries don’t even deserve a hand up as they struggle to build new lives here in our communities.”

Her comment was followed by more than 30 seconds of sustained applause from the diverse crowd.

“I see you all stand strongly in favor of giving them that support and I thank you for that,” said Pingree.

Despite funding being included in the legislature’s bipartisan budget and a bill affirming General Assistance support for asylum-seekers passing both the Maine House and Senate, a likely veto from Governor Paul LePage still looks set to deny state support and shift the issue to Maine cities and towns.

Image stills via coverage of the event by WGME

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