On Monday (June 20), Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency in Millinocket, Maine posted a sign on its window that read "Juneteenth ~it’s whatever... We're closed. Enjoy your fried chicken & collard greens."
The message was posted to signify the business being closed on Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday last year.
According to NBC News, Lisa Groelly photographed the now-viral sign. Groelly said she was in "disbelief" of the note.
“It was shocking,” she said. “I came back and I was talking to my co-worker about it, and we were really shocked. We were amazed at the sheer ignorance and stupidity of it.”
After the sign made headlines, Melanie Higgins took responsibility for the message and posted an apology letter via Facebook on Wednesday (June 22).
Higgins said she was sorry for “any misunderstanding and hurt” caused by her “usual, snarky office closure signs and content.”
In her Facebook post, Higgins said she's multiracial and understands the “severity of intolerance” that the signs “seemingly flippant tone” displayed.
“I am so sorry for any pain I have caused and the negative attention it has brought to our beautiful community,” Higgins added.
In response to the backlash, Allstate and Progressive insurance ended their working relationships with the Maine agency for breaking their code of conduct.
CNBC reports that Progressive is “aware and appalled by the sign,” according to a spokesperson from the company.
Chair of the Millinocket Town Council Steve Golieb said in a statement on Tuesday (June 21) that any “attempt to make light of Juneteenth” is “deeply saddening, disgraceful and unacceptable.”
“There is no place in the Town of Millinocket for such a blatant disregard of human decency,” Golieb said.