AUGUSTA — Following FBI reports that Maine experienced an uptick in the number of hate crimes in 2020, Senate President Troy Jackson, of Allagash, House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, of Biddeford, and leaders of all four legislative caucuses released the following statement:
“As Mainers, we tend to think of ourselves as people who look out for and do right by our neighbors. This may be true most of the time, but we cannot nor should we hide from the ugly truth: Hate crimes have dramatically increased over the past year. More and more Mainers have experienced violence due to their perceived race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. It’s wrong and it has to stop.
“In the wake of these shocking and deeply upsetting events, it’s easy to say that this isn’t or doesn’t represent who we are as a state. But the data speaks for itself. If this isn’t who we are as Mainers, then we must prove it by coming together and putting an end to this violence driven by racism, homophobia and antisemitism. If we believe that all Mainers deserve to feel safe and respected in their homes, in their workplaces and in their communities, then we must make that a reality. As legislative leaders, we believe in the kindness and strength of Maine people to step up and make that happen.
“There’s no doubt that we are living in deeply challenging times. It’s hard to find the right words to truly capture the anxiety that many families, communities and businesses are grappling with. But we can’t let that anxiety break us or change us.
“On Monday, Mainers all across the state spent Labor Day with family gatherings and backyard barbecues, celebrating the workers who have gotten us through the COVID-19 pandemic and the dignity of all working people. It served as a stark reminder of what we can accomplish when we work together — it’s when we make the most progress and we improve the lives of everyone.”
Last year in Maine, hate crimes against Black people and members of the LGBTQ community were most prevalent. There were 32 reported incidents involving anti-Black or anti-African American bias, and 29 that involved anti-LGBTQ bias, according to the data, which come from law enforcement agencies. The FBI also reported five incidents involving antisemitism and three incidents involving anti-Asian bias.