ACLU requests black, Hispanic arrest records following LePage’s controversial comments

Governor Paul LePage talked crime and race at Wednesday night's town hall, claiming 90 percent of drug dealers coming into Maine are Black or Hispanic. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- The ACLU of Maine filed a Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request for the records related to the arrest of black and Hispanic people in Maine following Governor Paul LePage’s town hall where he claimed 90 percent of drug dealers coming into the state are black or Hispanic.

[Related: Gov. LePage's comments about blacks, Hispanics ignite new controversy]

At a town hall meeting in North Berwick Wednesday night, Gov. LePage stated he keeps a binder with pictures of “every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state.”

"90 percent of the photos in my book, and it's a three ring binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn," LePage said.

The ACLU released a statement to CBS 13 about the governor's comments:

"White people are statistically more likely to sell drugs than black people, yet according to the governor police in Maine are nine times more likely to arrest black people for doing so. We look forward to working with the governor to end any unconstitutional racial profiling that may be occurring."

According to the ACLU, studies show that black people and white people use and sell drugs at similar rates. The ACLU says significant disparities in arrests, such as the nine-to-one disparity suggested by Gov. LePage, can often be attributed to racial profiling by law enforcement.

"You can say white, black, purple, green, white or orange,” LePage said. “The fact of the matter is people from Connecticut and New York are coming to Maine and are killing our citizens."

Local lawmaker Mark Dion also criticized LePage's comments.

"To put up the idea that he has mug shots of African American men and women and they're solely responsible for what we're confronting here in Maine is one of those instances where he has a fact and he's distorted it to create a new reality," Dion said.

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