Fury as Maine insurance firm posts sign in its window saying: 'Juneteenth. It's whatever... We're closed. Enjoy your fried chicken & collard greens'
- The sign was posted in the window Harry E. Reed Insurance Inc. in Millinocket, Maine
- Progressive Insurance, of which Reed Insurance is an affiliate, terminated its contract with the business
- The employee who wrote and posted the sign, Melanie Higgins, told local news outlets that she did not intend for the sign to be racist
A Maine insurance agency is facing outrage after it posted a racist Juneteenth closure sign in its window on Monday.
'Juneteenth. It's whatever. We're closed. Enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens,' the sign, scotch-taped to the front window of Harry E. Reed Insurance Inc. in Millinocket, Maine, read.
A photo of the sign began making the rounds online after it was posted on Facebook on Monday, and the response was vitriolic and swift.
The post quickly went viral as hundreds of commenters called the company racist. People made their way over to the company's Yelp page, tanking its rating with so many one-star reviews that the website disabled posting on the company's page.
Progressive Insurance, of which Reed Insurance is an affiliate, terminated its contract with the business.
The employee who wrote and posted the sign, Melanie Higgins, told local news outlets that she did not intend for the sign to be racist, and that she frequently posts 'snarky' signs on the company's door.
The sign was posted in the window Harry E. Reed Insurance Inc. in Millinocket, Maine. The business is facing fury after a photo of the sign went viral online
The Harry E. Reed Insurance company. The family that owns it says they have had to disconnect their phones amidst death threats
'It says they offer umbrella insurance. I think they're going to need a bigger umbrella,' a commenter wrote on the original post.
The original post has racked up over 300 comments and nearly 200 shares since it was posted, and has made its rounds across the internet.
It gained such attention that the chair of the Millinocket Town Council, Steve Golieb, released a statement condemning the sign on Tuesday.
'It is deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable for any person, business or organization to attempt to make light of Juneteenth and what it represents for millions of slaves and their living descendants,' wrote Golieb, 'There is no place in the Town of Millinocket for such a blatant disregard of human decency.'
A spokesperson for Progressive also denounced the sign in a statement declaring the end of their relationship with the company.
'We're aware and appalled by the sign recently posted at the Harry E Reed Agency and are terminating our relationship with the agency, ' wrote spokesman Jeff Sibel.
'The sign is in direct violation of that commitment and doesn't align with our company's Core Values and Code of Conduct,' Sibel wrote.
Melanie Higgins, who's mother owns the insurance company and is the only other employee, said she had no racist intentions with the sign
An apology posted in place of the original sign in the window of the Reed Insurance company
Higgins said that she frequently posts 'snarky' holiday closure signs in the store's window, like the one above
'I am not a racist person whatsoever,' Higgins - who is one of two employees alongside her mother who owns Reed Insurance - told local outlets.
'I am truly, truly, sorry that it even remotely came out that way'
Higgins said that she frequently writes and posts comical signs on the business' door for closures.
She shared a sign she posted for Memorial Day, reading 'Thank you to all service members for your sacrifice to this country. A country that is going to hell in a hand basket faster than my dog stealing a piece of pizza off the counter.'
Higgins said that she wrote the Juneteenth sign in haste as she was rushing to get home.
'I am mortified that this has even happened,' she said.
Higgins said she and her mother had to disconnect their phones as they began receiving death threats.