Elected officials in Portland, Maine, are denouncing a series of racially motivated crimes.
City councilors say tensions about race relations are high across the nation, and they'd like to see a community conversation on the issue in Portland.
"Racism, bigotry and intimidation have no place in our city," City Councilor Justin Costa said.
There's been an alarming number of racially motivated crimes in Portland so far this spring.
An anti-Islamic message spray-painted on a Muslim-owned market, the beating of a black man by two white men, a mixed-race family called racial slurs as they go for ice cream in the Old Port were among the incidents that happened within the span of a few weeks.
"If we as elected officials could pass a resolution, adopt an ordinance, set penalties, that eliminated racism, hatred, bigotry, intimidation forever we would do it. It's not that simple," City Councilor John Hinck said.
Elected officials in Portland are starting the conversation by holding this press conference denouncing the incidents. They say they need the crimes to be fully investigated before they can propose more specific action.
"There are legal consequences that we will pursue to their fullest extent if people engage in this type of behavior," Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said.
Two brothers have been arrested and charged with beating the black man in Portland. No arrest has been made in the graffiti hate crime.
While they aren't proposing specific action, city leaders say education can improve race relations, adding that a good place to hold a conversation would be Portland City Schools.
"This is a good start. I would love to see us do more in the communities by getting people together to speak to each other," school board member Pious Ali said.