FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday October 23, 2020
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In yesterday’s fourth 2020 U.S. Senate debate here in Maine, hosted by the Maine Chamber of Commerce and Portland TV station WCSH, candidates participated remotely, due to Senator Susan Collins’ need to be in Washington with the Senate in session. Independent Green candidate Lisa Savage used this opportunity to hand over her closing statement to Black Lives Matter activist Hamdia Ahmed, a 22-year-old former refugee from Somalia, now living here in Maine.
It was an effort, said Savage, to “lift up marginalized voices” and help “fight against institutional and systemic racism.”
“Before I begin my speech,” said Ahmed, “I would like to remind everyone that we live on sacred land, this land belongs to indigenous people. We live in a country where Black people are being hunted down by the police on a daily basis. We live in a country where the president refuses to condemn white supremacy. Black people are being murdered by the police on a daily basis. The same people who are condemning rioting should be condemning the pain that is being inflicted on Black people on a daily basis…”
At this point, Ahmed was in the process of saying, “We need justice for Breonna Taylor,” when she was interrupted by moderator Pat Callaghan, who quickly moved to the closing statement from Senator Collins.
Collins provided an instant contrast, with Ahmed’s message: “I fight hard for Maine every day, even in the midst of a pandemic,” Collins said. “When I use my seniority to get an extra destroyer for BIW … I do so because that’s what Maine needs.”
After the debate, Savage objected strongly to that sentiment: “The last thing Maine -- or anyone in the United States -- needs is another destroyer,” she said. “While building another weapon of war may provide some jobs in the short-term, it only exacerbates the gravest threat to our way of life here in Maine, which is the climate crisis. Instead of going begging to Washington for more war dollars, Maine’s senator should be leading an innovative movement toward a Demilitarized Green New Deal that will not only provide thousands of good-paying union jobs across Maine, but will also work to address our rapidly warming planet.
“That’s what I will do,” Savage continued, “when I am serving the Maine people in Washington.”
Previous to the debate, Ahmed had been with nearly 100 other supporters for a Black Lives Matter demonstration in front of the Portland Police Department, as part of the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.
Ahmed addressed the demonstration crowd from the police station steps, encouraging everyone to remember the names of those, like Breonna Taylor, who have been the victims of police violence as they must never be forgotten if fundamental change is to happen in the United States.
Following the debate, Hamdia and Savage addressed about 30 supporters on the street in Portland, in front of the hotel room where Savage participated in the debate, just down the street from the BLM rally. Savage noted that there were no questions in the debate about racial justice and that the topic would not have come up at all if not for Ahmed’s closing statement.
“The movement for racial justice is not a sidenote in this race for U.S. Senate,” said Savage. “This is an issue that should be front and center as we seek to make Maine and the United States a place where everyone has an equal opportunity and an equal voice.”
There is currently a further debate scheduled for Oct. 28, which is seeking to exclude the independent candidates, but Savage is confident they will see the error of their ways.
Find information about Lisa Savage, her policy positions, background, and how to support her people-powered campaign at www.LisaforMaine.org.