Mayor calls for governor graffiti to be taken down

Governor graffiti wall fall-out

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A graffiti artist, or group of artists, recently painted Gov. LePage in a very unflattering light — and it was all done legally.

The wall — owned by the Portland Water district and located along the north shore of Portland's East End — is a place where only runners, cyclists and boaters are able to see it.

The rendering of the governor depicts him dressed in the robes and hat worn notably by the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. 

"We saw it in the newspaper and all over Facebook and we were like, 'we gotta see it,'" said Kellie Smith. "Let's see what Portland has done here."

Smith and Tim Kennedy were part of the solid stream of the inquisitive who just had to see the wall for themselves. Half of it spells out in bold letters 'Dump LePage' — the other half, a caricature drawing of the governor.

Asked whether it went too far, Kennedy said, "no, it's just a caricature of that somebody believes and that's what they see in him and maybe that's what he is.

"This governor's getting what he chooses- what he gets … that's what I think," Kennedy said. "He hasn't been a very nice person representing Maine."

The Portland Water District named it the graffiti wall 15 years ago, allowing it to be a wall of public art.

"People have the right to express what they want to express," said Mayor Ethan Strimling. "Freedom of speech is a very important quality to me."

But this, Strimling said this afternoon, goes beyond that.

"Comparing the governor to the grand wizard is a step too far for me," Strimling said. "The Ku Klux Klan in this country played a role that should be minimized."

Late Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Strimling called the Portland Water District, asking them to take the mural down, which is not something they have ever done.

Strimling told NEWS CENTER that given the history of the KKK, the mural is too offensive and is not reflective of Portland.

The final decision on the mural will rest with the Portland Water District.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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