An independent insurance company located in Millinocket, Maine is feeling the heat after employees placed a racist window sign on the door on Juneteenth.
The controversy started earlier this week when residents read the offensive message that was left on the door of Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency.
“Juneteenth, it’s whatever … we’re closed,” read the sign, which was placed at the business’ entrance. “Enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens.”
Lisa Groelly told NBC News that she took a picture of the sign after a co-worker told her about it. She shared the photo with her daughter, who posted it on Facebook.
“It was shocking,” Groelly said. “I came back and I was talking to my co-worker about it, and we were really shocked. We were amazed at the sheer ignorance and stupidity of it.”
Insurance giants Progressive and Allstate slammed the sign and announced that they had severed ties with the agency.
“We’re committed to creating an environment where our people feel welcomed, valued, and respected and expect that anyone representing Progressive to take part in this commitment,” company spokesperson Jeff Sibel said. “The sign is in direct violation of that commitment and doesn’t align with our company’s Core Values and Code of Conduct.”
Melanie Higgins helps run the insurance agency along with her mother, she took responsibility for the sign but says she never intended to offend anyone.
“I would never purposely set out to hurt my mom’s business at all. She had nothing to do with this,” Higgins told News Center, Maine. “I truly apologize. I’m mortified that this is even happening … We are receiving death threats, we are receiving phone calls calling us really inappropriate words.”
Higgins also wrote an apology which was posted on Facebook Wednesday, claiming she wrote the note when she was in hurry to get home.
Apparently, she posts light-hearted notes during every holiday informing people that the firm will be closed.
“I started making these types of signs when COVID-19 hit our area in 2020,” she wrote. “Trying to make readers who are walking by reading smile in light of those dark times. I am sorry for any pain I have caused and the negative attention it has brought to our beautiful community.”