Justice and race relations experts tell the Portland Press Herald that the only value in pointing out the race of a drug dealer – as Maine Gov. Paul LePage has done several times since January – is to inflame the public. “It does nothing to address the matter of addiction, but what it does do is inflame racial tensions at a time when we need it the least,” said Shay Stewart-Bouley, a writer and community organizer. In January, LePage said drug dealers with names like “D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty” were coming to Maine from Connecticut and New York to sell drugs, adding, “Half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.” Last week, LePage ignited a new political firestorm when he again suggested that most drug dealers arrested in Maine are black.
Federal statistics indicate that LePage is wrong. The FBI says that just 14.1 percent of the 1,211 people arrested for selling or making drugs in Maine in 2014 were black. Criminal justice experts suggested LePage’s comments were intended to divert attention from his administration’s inability to solve the state’s drug problem. “It sounds like your governor is acting short on facts and heavy on myths,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project in New York.