I live in Portland. I’m responding as a black woman leading Poor People’s Campaign Maine to Tom MacMillan’s Sept. 24 op-ed, “Maine Voices: Portland’s city manager system stymies democratic, pro-worker policies.”

The Maine Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival stands against racist attacks on our democracy. We demand the removal of city manager positions, which thwart our democratic process. We agree with MacMillan: There has not been democracy in Portland since 1923, when the first city manager was hired. We disagree that the election of the mayor in 2011 restored democracy for Portlanders.

Maine is one of 19 states that allow racist takeovers of democracy, like the 1923 Ku Klux Klan-enabled installation of the city manager position in Portland. As national co-chair Rev. William Barber explains, we must fight the policies that sustain white supremacy and that keep people of color and the poor marginalized. This is why we cannot separate the role of the city manager and the policy of moving the homeless shelter 6 miles away from the critical services of downtown Portland. This racist policy of city management intended to empower white people leads to the creation of policies that impact mostly poor white people.

The Maine Poor People’s Campaign stands with the homeless in the moral outcry against the removal of the Oxford Street Shelter and calls for an end to an era of city managers in Portland. Fight poverty, not the poor!

Marcella Makinen

Maine Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival


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