Part of a mural in Portland, Maine, showing Gov. Paul LePage dressed in Ku Klux Klan garb
BDN Maine Screenshot

The mural is for sure a controversial one.

An unknown artist or artists in Portland, Maine, painted the state's Gov. Paul LePage wearing a white hood and robe, complete with a red Ku Klux Klan insignia next to bold words declaring "racist," "homophobe" and "moron." "Governor" was written underneath them all, but that was marked out with a red line.

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Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling says the depiction borders on hate speech and should be removed, the Portland Press Herald reports.

“I do not want it up there. It is not reflective of our values,” Strimling said Tuesday. “The KKK has a long, problematic history in the state of Maine, and equating the governor and his rhetoric, as much as we disagree with it, is a step too far.”

However, city officials are saying that the mural, painted on the wall between the Portland Water District's wastewater treatment plant and a section of the Eastern Prom Trail, is free speech.

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“From the police point of view, it’s a matter of free speech and there’s nothing they can do about it,” city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said early Tuesday.

The massive mural covers the entire 100-foot-long wall and includes the message, "Dump LePage," the paper notes. As the Press Herald reports, the wall is owned by the Portland Water District, which has been open as a space for graffiti artists for more than a decade.

At first, the site notes, officials with the water district seemed to agree that the mural should remain. However, later Tuesday, water-district spokeswoman Michelle Clements said the district's general manager would be discussing the issue with the city to determine what, if anything, should be done.

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According to the Press Herald, the artwork appeared after LePage said at a town hall meeting July 24 that more than 90 percent of drug traffickers arrested in Maine since January were black or Hispanic. He has since repeated his claims, despite, the newspaper notes, FBI statistics showing that only 14 percent of the 1,200 people charged with selling drugs in 2014 were black.

Read more at the Portland Press Herald