Mayor Neil O’Leary is speaking out after the governor of Maine placed blame on Waterbury for bringing drugs into his state.
"We need to find solutions to problems and not be pointing fingers and name calling," O’Leary said Friday. "And that’s what saddens me, a governor would stoop to that level."
During a town hall Wednesday night, this is how Governor Paul LePage of Maine addressed the drug epidemic:
"I don't ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison but they come," Gov. LePage said. "And I will tell you that ninety plus percent of those pictures in my book and it's a three ring binder are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut the Bronx and Brooklyn."
O’Leary would not go so far as to call the comments racist, but he said Governor LePage’s statement is no way to tackle a serious issue hurting communities across the region.
"To talk about a drug epidemic in terms of race is never a good idea because it’s just not right," he told NBC Connecticut.
O’Leary said the ongoing drug crisis right now is worse than anything he saw during his 32 years in law enforcement.
"There is a significant heroin epidemic going on in the United States of America right now and its taking people’s lives every single day," O’Leary said.
ALCU of Connecticut interim executive director David McGuire issued a statement to NBC Connecticut.
"We applaud our sister affiliate, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, for speaking out against racism and seeking to get to the bottom of whether racial profiling—or profiling of Connecticut residents—is happening in Maine."
Instead of blaming certain cities and minorities, Mayor O’Leary said elected officials and law enforcement from across New England should work together on cutting off the supply of potentially deadly drugs.
"We’d be happy to do that," he said. "But we’re certainly not going to get caught into any racial derogatory commentary any further."
O’Leary pointed out three recent overdose victims in his city were all white.
Photo Credit: AP