Recent verbal attack raises questions of racial tension in Fort Kent
FORT KENT – The Fort Kent Police Department charged Ruben Pelletier of Fort Kent with disorderly conduct after he allegedly yelled a racial slur involving the ‘N-word’ at a black man on a bicycle on Elm Street, said Michaud.
Police have charged the 20-year-old man with both disorderly conduct and illegal possession of liquor by a minor. The incident occurred on May 5 at approximately 8:30 p.m. Pelletier will appear in court on June 22.
Chief Michaud said the incidence of racially-motived conflict, if present, has likely increased in Fort Kent, because there are greater numbers of non-Caucasian people in town.
It is unclear whether there is support for this in the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s database of enrollment, which tallies enrollment numbers by listing the number of students originating from Maine, other states, Canada, or foreign countries. Assuming that college students comprise the largest population of non-Caucasians in Fort Kent and that foreign students comprise the largest segment of non-Caucasians in the college population, numbers of non-Caucasians reached a significant high in the fall of 2010, more than double the previous peak in 2008.
On the other hand, the current numbers of foreign students, at 20 students, are on the low end of the typical fall and spring range of 18-26 enrollments each semester over the past ten years.
Terry Kelly, Director of University Relations at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, said that he is unsure if the event is related to an incident earlier this year which is currently in court system, though he thinks the incident earlier in the year was likely more isolated than an indication of a larger community problem.
“There is a case of hate crime and that’s proceeding through the courts as it should, but beyond that, I am not aware of any bad feelings among students or between students and the community at large,” he said.
He indicated that without confirmation that the black man involved in the recent incident was a college student, he did not feel it was his place to comment on the recent crime.
He added, “We pride ourselves on very good relations on campus and we don’t know of any problems in the community.”