Stats on drug trafficking, race don’t back up Maine governor

Maine Gov. Paul LePage

Maine Gov. Paul LePage

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Gov. Paul LePage is sticking by his assertion that out-of-state blacks and Hispanics account for the vast majority of heroin arrests in Maine, but no law enforcement stats come close to backing him up.

LePage has doubled down on comments that critics say strengthen racial stereotypes and tacitly approve of racial profiling.

The FBI data show that blacks accounted for 14 percent of drug arrests in Maine in 2014, the most recent numbers available.

Broken down by type of offense, the data showed that blacks accounted for 35.5 percent of arrests for selling opium-derived drugs including heroin, morphine and cocaine. The FBI doesn’t include a category for Hispanics in its statistics.

The pastor at the Green Memorial A.M.E. Church in Portland accuses the governor of “fear-mongering.”

LePage has had harsh words for Connecticut. The Portland Press Herald reported the Republican governor made the reference last month at a town hall in North Berwick. A businessman asked how he could bring a company to Maine “given the rhetoric you put out there about people of color.”

LePage says he keeps a three-ringed binder of photos from drug busts and most “are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut; the Bronx; and Brooklyn.”

Some called his comments racially charged. LePage, who’s white, says he’s not racist.

In January, LePage said drug dealers with names like “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” from Connecticut and New York are getting Maine’s white girls pregnant. He also said that month that his state is too easy on drug dealers, and should “bring the guillotine back” and have “public executions.”