Maine Gov. Paul LePage has already said he “absolutely” supports implementing the death penalty for drug dealers in his state, which abolished capital punishment in 1887.
Then on Wednesday, he proposed an even more radical idea: “Everybody in Maine, we have Constitutional Carry. Load up and get rid of the drug dealers,” LePage said in an interview with WGME-TV in Maine.
A reporter pressed the Republican governor on his suggestion that the people of Maine take up arms against drug dealers, asking if the governor supported vigilante type justice. LePage said he didn’t.
A day earlier, he had called for the return of public executions via guillotine but said it was a joke.
According to the Portland Press Herald, the governor’s reference to the concealed handgun law was just one of several statements he’s made recently about curbing the heroin epidemic in the state. The newspaper reports he’s talked about:
“…reinstituting the death penalty, changing Maine law to allow drug dealers to be charged with homicide if they can be linked to an overdose death, and getting tough on doctors who overprescribe opioid medications – a major factor in the current heroin epidemic.”
His most controversial comments came earlier this month when he described drug dealers as men named “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” who come to Maine to sell drugs and “impregnate young white girls.”
The comments went viral, earning widespread scorn, as NPR’s Sam Sanders reported.
LePage soon walked back the comments, saying they were a mistake.
“I was going impromptu, and my brain didn’t catch up to my mouth.” He continued: “Instead of Maine women, I said white women…. if you go to Maine, you can see it’s 95 percent white.”
To journalists writing about his suggestive comments, he said, “If you want to make it racist, go ahead and do what you want.”
Sam wrote that the topic of drugs and race is increasingly prevalent in politics, even on a national scale:
“The conversation on addiction this election has focused more on treatment and compassion — and differs from the tough-on-crime rhetoric used previously in the war on drugs. Some say that’s because the face of addiction in America today, particularly when it comes to heroin, is increasingly white.
“At the time LePage made his comments about ‘D-Money,’ ‘Smoothie’ and ‘Shifty,’ he may not have been thinking about any of these larger issues and the complicated way race and drugs intersect.
“He may have also not known that the night before he spoke, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested three people in Maine and charged them with distributing heroin.
“They were white. And their names — James, Jody and Donna.”