Allstate and Progressive Cut Ties With Insurance Company That Was Slammed for Racist Juneteenth Sign

Allstate and Progressive said they've terminated their partnerships with Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency, which has been described as an "independent agent."

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An independent insurance company is facing severe backlash over a racist window sign posted on Juneteenth.

According to NBC News, the controversy began earlier this week when residents of Millinocket, Maine, noticed an offensive message left at the 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 she took a picture of the sign after a co-worker brought it to her attention. She then shared the photo with her daughter, who then 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 condemned the signage and confirmed they had cut 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 told the Washington Post. “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, who helps run the insurance agency with her mother, took responsibility for the sign, but insisted 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 issued a written apology via Facebook on Wednesday, claiming she wrote the note when she was in hurry to get home. She said she posts light-hearted notes ahead of every holiday 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 read and 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.”

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their emancipation. President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, giving millions of U.S. workers an extra day off.

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