Maine governor Paul LePage just came awfully close to calling for vigilante justice. From the Portland Press-Herald:
Gov. Paul LePage called on Mainers to help law enforcement rid the state of drug traffickers Wednesday, at one point citing a new law that allows residents to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
“I tell ya, everybody in Maine, we have constitutional carry,” he said. “Load up and get rid of the drug dealers. Because, folks, they’re killing our kids.”
Asked by a reporter if he was calling for vigilante justice, LePage insisted he wasn’t. Even if he kinda was.
This is particularly distressing coming from LePage given his assumptions about who, exactly, these drug dealers are: young black men (more specifically, guys that are named “D-Money,” “Smoothie,” “Shifty”) who are coming to Maine from New York to sell drugs, kill kids and impregnate white women. LePage has tried to distance himself from his previous comments that racialized the heroin epidemic, but he got no favors from white supremacist leaders like David Duke, who heard exactly what he said.
Maine is 95 percent white and one percent black. Paul LePage has already suggested that there are more black drug dealers from New York hanging out in Maine than there are black residents. And now, Lepage has asked the gun-toting, kid-saving folks of Maine to take justice into their own hands to “get rid of the drug dealers.” You don’t have to misinterpret LePage by all that much to hear him declaring open season on black men in his state.
LePage’s remarks came amid a slew of wild ideas regarding how to deal with the state’s heroin epidemic, which can be largely traced back to the overprescription of legal opioid painkillers. Perhaps most notably, LePage has floated the idea of bringing back the death penalty for the specific crime of drug trafficking. Maine abolished the death penalty in 1887. He has also proposed charging drug traffickers with homicide if someone overdoses on the drugs they sell.
With all eyes on Donald Trump exerting his dominance over Fox News today, it’s worth remembering that there’s an actual elected executive in the United States who’s giving us a preview of what a Trump administration would look like.