BANGOR (AP) – A black family has filed a lawsuit against the town of Dexter, claiming it was forced to leave Maine after being subjected to acts of racism and the police department failed to respond.

Charles and Agnes Austin, of West Warwick, R.I., filed the lawsuit this month in Penobscot County Superior Court. The case was moved to U.S. District Court last week at the request of the town’s attorney.

The complaint claims the Austins and their three children were subjected to repeated acts of racism, including violence and racial name-calling, and that the children were assaulted at Dexter schools.

The police department, the suit says, did not address crimes directed against the family and in fact subjected them to motor vehicle stops based on racial profiling.

The family’s attorney, Brett Baber of Bangor, said the family was subjected to a “modern form of racism” and left the state because of “ongoing racial indifference.”

‘Police sat on sidelines’

“People don’t use the ‘n’ word or burn crosses in their neighbors’ front lawns,” Baber said. “Instead, officials ignore people of color. Despite numerous requests about neighbors who did use the ‘n’ word, the police basically sat on the sidelines.”

The town’s attorney, Edward Benjamin Jr. of Portland, said the Austins left Maine not because of discrimination, but because Charles Austin was on probation in Rhode Island and had left that state without permission from his probation officer.

Benjamin said he thinks the allegation about racial profiling stems from Austin’s arrest in October 2005 for drunken driving. Austin, 47, pleaded guilty last month in Penobscot County Superior Court.

“These are a host of vague allegations,” Benjamin said. “Obviously, the town denies that they are related to race.”