Maine citizens of color call on the Governor to help their communities

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) Racially and ethnically diverse elected officials and community leaders gathered virtually Thursday to ask Governor Mills and her administration for more protection for people of color from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The African American population makes up only 1.6 percent of Maine's population, but they account for almost 28 percent of COVID-19 cases when the race of the person is known.

Citizens of color are asking the governor to allocate CARES Act funds to assist colored communities.

They're also asking Mills to meet with them one-on-one so she can understand the pain and suffering of these communities.

Thursday, Mills did announce she's dedicating $50,000 from the Governor's Contingent Account to support the work of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations.

That commission, signed into law last year by Mills, creates and improves opportunities and incorporates the goal of eliminating disparities for historically disadvantaged racial populations in Maine.

Those on Thursday's panel say they're happy for the show of support, but it's not enough.

"We need immediate relief and for those communities that cannot stand up right now, we need that investment. And so, I say thank you very much for funding that works, but we need more. We need immediate attention, today, now, so that one more life is not lost," says Rep. Talbot Ross, a Democrat from Portland.

The group is also calling on the governor to follow the example of other cities and counties across the U.S. declaring racism a public health crisis.

You can view the meeting in its entirety on the ACLU Maine Facebook page.