Monday, March 28, 2011

ISSUES: LePage removes historic Mural over weekend ... calls protestors "idiots".

Mural removed over weekend from Department of Labor offices
By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff
Posted March 28, 2011, at 10:22 a.m.
Last modified March 28, 2011, at 11:23 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A labor-themed mural that has become a flashpoint between Gov. Paul LePage, unions and Maine artists was removed from its prominent location in a state building over the weekend, administration officials confirmed Monday.

Administration spokespersons Dan Demeritt and Adrienne Bennett would not say when, exactly, crews took down the 11-panel mural depicting the history Maine’s labor movement.

“It is safely in storage and we are anticipating its relocation to a more appropriate location,” Demeritt said Monday morning.

Friday, more than 200 protesters gathered at the Department of Labor building in Augusta to show their opposition to the removal of the 3-year-old mural. Some in the crowd said they would employ non-violent tactics of civil disobedience to block the mural’s removal. LePage responded, in an interview with WCSH6, by saying if protesters formed a human chain around the mural as they were planning, “I’d laugh at them, the idiots. That’s what I would do. Come on! Get over yourselves!”

“The Department of Labor has an important job to do for workers and employers and we just didn’t have time for distractions,” Demeritt said.

The LePage administration decided to remove the mural after receiving a handful of complaints from citizens and business owners who viewed it as too pro-union for a department that is responsible for working with both employers and employees. The painting’s defenders, meanwhile, describe it as a piece of art that depicts important events, themes and figures in Maine’s labor history.

Portland officials have indicated they might be willing to house the mural in City Hall, but such a move would have to be approved by the City Council.

Get the pictures and subscribe at: