Mural of Maine Gov. LePage in KKK Garb Sparks Debate

The caricature of Gov. Paul LePage was painted during the past week on wall belonging to a wastewater treatment facility

Is a mural of Maine Gov. Paul LePage dressed as a member of the KKK hate speech or free speech?

There is disagreement in Portland, where the graffiti appeared this week.

"Comparing the governor to the grand wizard is a step too far for me," said Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, who has asked for the mural on a designated graffiti wall near the Eastern Promenade to be removed.

But according to city spokesperson Jessica Grondin, Portland's city attorney has determined that this kind of mural is protected political speech, and should not be taken down.

"It is a First Amendment free speech right," said Dawn Harkness, who visited the mural Wednesday morning. "We have to deal with speech we don't like."

The mural appeared days after LePage came under fire for making remarks about black drug traffickers, saying 90 percent of drug arrests in Maine were black or Latino dealers from out of state.

The painting also features the words "racist," "homophobe" and "moron," with the word "governor" crossed out.

By Wednesday morning, someone had painted over the KKK hat and symbolism and added mouse ears to the governor's head.

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