Shortly after drawing public scrutiny for his comments regarding the racial makeup of convicted drug dealers in Maine and for leaving a crude voicemail for Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Wesbrook, Gov. Paul LePage found himself in a curious position.
By now, LePage is likely used to the liberal media attack dogs contorting his words to keep him in the headlines, but the governor never could have imagined where he would find himself after this fiasco; donning Klu Klux Klan regalia in a mural painted on a wall in Portland’s Water District (PWD).
Next to the painting were four words: Racist, Homophobe, Moron and Governor, the final word struck through with red paint.
A small legal squabble ensued between concerned citizens and city officials as Portland’s Democratic Mayor Ethan Strimling pushed to get the mural removed.
“I do not want it up there; it is not reflective of our values,” Strimling told the Portland Press Herald. “The KKK has a long, problematic history in the state of Maine and equating the governor and his rhetoric, as much as we disagree with it, is a step too far.”
However, PWD and the city agreed years ago to allow street art along that very wall. While different entities battled back and forth about the legality and offense of what was depicted, it appeared the city reached its conclusion that removing the mural was an obstruction of the First Amendment rights of whoever painted it, and could do nothing to remove it.
That’s when a decent citizen stepped forward and made it his civic duty to paint over the mural that he and others found incredibly offensive, both personally and as a reflection of their city.
Mark Reilly, a lifelong resident of Portland, painted over the grossly offensive mural last week, and was proud to share his story with us.
“It was completely disrespectful and certainly does not reflect the city of Portland as a whole. There may be a small segment of the population that feels it is appropriate, but I do not believe the majority of people in Portland do,” Reilly said.
“I know I certainly didn’t. I found it to be offensive and not helpful to the conversation about what has been happening in the state.”
Reilly, a 47-year-old Army veteran who served from 1987-1994, graduated from Deering High School in 1987. He has worked at the United States Postal Service for 20 years and moonlights as a standup comedian and travels across New England performing.
While scrolling through social media sites last Tuesday, Reilly encountered the story of the mural and after he got off of work, traveled to the wall to see the graffiti himself to determine how much paint would be needed to cover it.
When he arrived, Reilly found that he wasn’t the only concerned citizen bothered by the graffiti.
“When I pulled into the parking lot, a woman pulled in at the same time. I saw that she had a paint tray and other necessary tools. I did not know her but we ended up painting over the graffiti together,” Reilly said.
Reilly, like others who have seen the mural, was upset the city could do nothing to remove it.
“The city has failed to act in response to this graffiti. City Hall pointed to the PWD and the PWD pointed to City Hall. Meanwhile, the graffiti remained,” Reilly said.
“There could be an argument made that the graffiti is hate speech. I would venture to guess that if someone painted swastikas all along the wall, the city would have cleaned it up.”
While there’s truly no telling how the city would react in such a situation, Reilly didn’t hesitate to acknowledge that a double standard exists, both in how the city reacted and how liberals in the media and Legislature capitalized on the event.
“The voicemail the Governor left [Gattine] was wrong. There is no denying that. There has been debate about [LePage’s] ’90 percent’ remark, and that has been misrepresented. It has often been repeated that the Governor has said that black and Hispanics are the enemy. That is not at all accurate,” Reilly said.
“The Governor said those people who are bringing drugs into the state are the enemy. The people bringing the poison that is killing people in our state are the enemy. The Legislature, specifically the Democratic caucus, has blown the issue out of proportion. The media has been a partner in crime in that endeavor.”
Reilly, and likely many other conservatives in southern Maine, is fed up with the hypocrisy that exists among hypercritical liberals who condemn LePage’s rhetoric, but only offer hate in return.
“I have heard time and time again that people are upset with the governor for his ‘lack of civility’ when he speaks. It is interesting that many of those same people use vile, disgusting terms when talking about him. The graffiti was a clear example of the lack of civility that people have decried. It, to me, is the height of hypocrisy.”