Three major insurance companies have cut ties with a Millinocket firm amid the backlash over a racist sign left on its door on Juneteenth.
A spokesperson for Progressive told NPR that the company is “appalled” by the sign posted Monday at the Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency and called it a “direct violation” of the insurer’s commitment to diversity.
Allstate joined Progressive in ending its business with the Millinocket company, telling NPR that diversity, equity and inclusion are “non-negotiable.”
MMG Insurance, a regional agency founded in Houlton in 1897, said Wednesday it terminated its contract with Harry E. Reed Insurance, saying the Juneteenth sign is “not consistent with the values and culture that guide our efforts for equality both within our Company and with those with which we do business.”
“We remain committed to fostering an environment of respect, that encourages inclusion, and models civility as we do our part in leading progress,” the insurer said in a statement.
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Monday marked the first time Maine celebrated Juneteenth as an official state holiday. The holiday, which marks the date in 1865 when Union troops informed Black people in Galveston, Texas, that the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery had been signed two years earlier. It is traditionally celebrated on June 19, but was observed Monday because the holiday fell on a weekend.
The closed sign on the door of the Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency read: “Juneteenth ~it’s whatever… We’re closed. Enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens.”
A photo of the sign was first shared on Facebook and then was widely circulated on the internet, including the website Reddit.
Since then, it has sparked a widespread backlash. Millinocket Town Council Chair Steve Golieb called its sentiment “deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable.”
The backlash has even snared other Maine companies by mistake. Reed Family Insurance Advisors, which is located in Damariscotta, has received angry calls and requests for comment from reporters who mistook it for the unrelated Millinocket business.