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Sen. Susan Collins speaks with voters in Hollis, Maine on October 29, 2020. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)—who is locked in a tight reelection race—speaks with voters outside an ice cream shop in Hollis, Maine on October 29, 2020. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images) 

A Day After Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Violent Hate Crimes, Collins Says Maine Doesn't Have Issue With Systemic Racism

"We are very fortunate in the state of Maine because we have terrific members of law enforcement," the Republican incumbent asserted. 

Brett Wilkins, staff writer

The day after a Biddeford white supremacist was sentenced to a decade behind bars for racially motivated attacks on Black men, Sen. Susan Collins—who is locked in a tight reelection race—curtly denied the existence of systemic racism in Maine. 

During the final U.S. Senate debate between the Republican incumbent and her Democratic challenger, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, on Wednesday night, the 67-year-old senator was given 30 seconds to say if she believes systemic racism is a problem in Maine—whose population is about 95% white and 1% Black.

Collins only needed about five seconds to answer: "I do not believe systemic racism is a problem in the state of Maine," she replied.

Noting that she is endorsed by influential police groups, Collins said that "we are very fortunate in the state of Maine because we have terrific members of law enforcement."

"It's clear that in some parts of our country there is systemic racism or problems in police departments," she added. 

Gideon retorted that systemic racism exists everywhere in the United States.

"Black lives do matter and the reason we have to say it is because there is a legacy of bigotry in this country that results in systemic racism," she said. 

Maine can rightfully claim its share of that ignominious legacy, and not just in the distant past. From racism in criminal justicepolicing, schools, healthcare, and housing (and unhousing), to racist statements by political candidates and elected officials—including nationally notorious comments by former GOP Gov. Paul LePage—there is plenty of evidence that bigotry is alive and well in the Pine Tree State. 

The state also experiences its share of racist hate crimes. U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen on Tuesday sentenced Maurice Diggins, a swastika-tattooed 36-year-old ex-felon, to 10 years in prison for brutally assaulting Black men in Biddeford and Portland in 2018. Torresen called the crimes "among the most serious I have seen." 

In the first attack on April 15, 2018, Diggins and his nephew Dusty Leo—who pleaded guilty in February in connection with the attacks but has yet to be sentenced—approached a group of Black men outside a bar in Portland's Old Port district. Diggins attacked two of the men, breaking one's jaw and knocking another out. Diggins and Leo then chased one of the men as he tried to flee, shouting racial epithets at him. 

Diggins and Leo then drove to a 7-Eleven convenience store in Biddeford, where the pair confronted another Black man. Diggins then blocked his path while Leo punched him in the face, breaking his jaw. The pair yelled more racist slurs at the man as he fled. 

Both of the men with broken jaws required surgery to wire them back together. The Biddeford victim told the court he moved out of the town because he no longer felt safe there. 

The Bangor Daily News saw fit to print that Diggins was convicted by an all-white jury. 

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NY Court Suspends Rudy Giuliani From Practicing Law Over Trump Lies

The court pointed to "demonstrably false and misleading" claims of voter fraud made by former President Donald Trump's lawyer.

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·

State Court Ruling Called 'Big Step' Toward Holding ExxonMobil Accountable

"By clearing this hurdle, the people of Massachusetts are now one step closer to finally having their rightful day in court, where Exxon will have to answer for its campaign of deception."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·

'Sounds Like Fascism': DeSantis Signs Law to Collect Political Views of Professors

The law bars universities from "shielding" students from "offensive" views, raising questions about retaliation for professors who enforce respectful classroom conduct.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·

EPA Inaction Blamed as US Bees Suffer Second Highest Colony Losses on Record

Beekeepers lost nearly half of their colonies between April 2020 and April 2021, according to the Bee Informed Partnership survey.

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·

Military Contractors Quietly Boost Donations to GOP Backers of Trump's Coup Attempt

One critic of the weapons industry called it "another example of how our system for awarding money to contractors is often pay-to-play."

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·