Demand Reparations for 1912 Forced Removal of Residents of Maine's Malaga Island Community
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Sign this petition to demand that Maine lawmakers develop a system of paying reparations for the abuses perpetrated against Black and biracial residents of Malaga Island in 1912. Residents were forcibly removed from the Island, and many were sent to the School for the Feeble-Minded. Frederick Plaisted, Maine's governor at the time, supported the destruction of the community, saying "the best plan would be to burn down the shacks with all their filth" (Maine Museum). At least four biracial residents died at the School for the Feeble-Minded, and the remains of seventeen bodies were exhumed from the Malaga Island cemetery and re-buried in five caskets at what is now Pineland in New Gloucester. This response was fueled by racism in Maine and the racist manifestations of the eugenics movement. Learn more about the history of Malaga Island at the link above.
In 2017 a monument was dedicated by former governor Paul LePage and the Malaga 1912 scholarship fund established in 2013 by the Maine State Legislature provided scholarships to several descendants of Malaga Island Survivors. Replacing a mass grave with a monument and offering limited scholarships is not enough. Reparations will do much more to uplift descendents and Black and POC communities in Maine than the apology of a governor who used racist epithets and made racist and derogatory comments about BIPOC throughout his two terms and a limited scholarship fund that is insufficient in response to the actions perpetrated.
Maine has long done too little to address its racist past and present and needs to do more to support BIPOC and Immigrant communities. By stealing Malaga Island and dismantling the oldest known self-sustaining Black community in Maine in 1912, the State of Maine contributed to a long history of state-sanctioned White supremacy that continues today through poor public health measures for Black and POC Mainers (see here for the example of the current COVID-19 pandemic), police brutality targeted disproportionatly at BIPOC, insufficient measures to combat racism and protect BIPOC students in Maine's public schools, and more. Paying reparations to compensate for the lost community, capital, and culture as well as to begin the process of healing the damages of severe human rights violations haunting Maine's past is an important way to change the precedent of our future and provide concrete support to those still struggling with racial inequity as a result of generational impacts of racist acts perpetrated against BIPOC ancestors.
This petition serves to demand the beginning of a process with Maine lawmakers to demand reparations and accountability for Maine's racist past while simultaneously taking action to confront Maine's racism in the present. Monetary reparations are a step to address atrocities and inequities of Maine's history while addressing continuing problems in the present. Reparations are in no way a substitute for police and prison abolition, nor do they change the need for immediate changes to Maine's educational and public health systems. Rather, reparations are another necessary step in working towards justice to engender antiracism in Maine.
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