Skip to comments.Somalis Accuse Lewiston Mayor of Racism, Bigotry in Open Letter
Posted on 10/08/2002 7:21:09 AM PDT by Tancred
LEWISTON Leaders of the city's fledgling Somali community called Mayor Laurier Raymond a racist and a bigot for asking Somalis to stop moving to Lewiston from other parts of the United States.
During a press conference Monday, Somali leaders called on Raymond to apologize and to retract a letter he wrote last week asking the estimated 1,060 Somalis who have moved to Lewiston since February 2001 to give the city some "breathing room."
In an open letter of their own, Somali leaders described Raymond as an "ill-informed leader who is bent towards bigotry." They criticized him for failing to meet with them before writing his letter.
They said Raymond would be to blame if some residents in this mostly French-Catholic city saw his letter as license to attack Somalis. They asked police and state officials to guarantee their continued safety as residents of the city.
Standing in a drizzling rain outside a Somali community office on Lisbon Street, a few doors from the city's first Islamic mosque, Somali leaders invited Raymond to meet with them soon to learn more about the people he wants to turn away.
"He is a racist," said Mohamed Dirye, 52, a Somali who moved to Lewiston from Atlanta last December. "The way he is speaking, he thinks he's mayor for only white residents. He's not only their mayor. He's our mayor, too."
Somali leaders said they cannot tell Somalis to stop moving to Lewiston, especially when many of them are family members and friends looking for a better life, and most of them are legal residents or U.S. citizens free to live where they want. Many Somalis are former refugees who fled the clan warfare that has plagued their country for decades.
"We are proud to claim that we are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers of citizens of this city of Lewiston," said Adam Mostafa, 35, who moved to Lewiston in July from Indianapolis with his wife and eight children. "It means this is home."
Raymond did not return telephone calls to his law office or his home on Monday. In an interview last Friday, Raymond said his letter speaks for itself and represents the view of many Lewiston residents.
"This large number of new arrivals cannot continue without negative results for all. The Somali community must exercise some discipline and reduce the stress on our limited finances and our generosity," Raymond wrote. "We will continue to accommodate the present (Somali) residents as best we can ... Our city is maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally."
Police Chief William Welch said Monday that Somalis will be afforded the same police protection as all other Lewiston residents. He said there have been no reports of attacks or threats made against Somalis since the mayor issued his letter.
"We cannot guarantee them any more than anybody else," Welch said. "If they have issues, we're going to address them."
Welch said he didn't believe Raymond intended to "agitate and incite the local people," as the Somali letter suggests. "I think (Raymond) said what he thought," Welch said. "I'm sure it was agitating to some, and I'm sure there are some Lewiston residents who agree with the mayor. I also have a lot of faith in the people of this community to deal with his letter appropriately."
Some Lewiston residents at Monday's press conference said they welcomed Somalis to the community and denounced the mayor for increasing tensions between newcomers and longtime residents.
"Many of us say, 'Bring your friends. Build your community together,' " said Mark Schlotterbeck, city missionary at Calvary United Methodist Church. "We are all children of the same Creator. Let us share our resources."
Schlotterbeck invited the public to join church members in welcoming Somalis to Lewiston with a "friendship walk" on Sunday starting at 8:45 a.m. from the church on Sabattus Street to the mosque on Lisbon Street.
Somali leaders questioned why Raymond failed to acknowledge the contributions Somalis have made to the city and the federal funding Lewiston has received to help provide social services and educational programs for new immigrants.
While the city's general assistance budget has more than doubled to $528,000 over the last year, about half of the estimated 412 Somali adults living in Lewiston are working. Others are taking college courses or language classes. Three Somali-owned stores have opened in less than a year. Many Somalis live in downtown apartments that once were vacant.
"Our presence has turned Lewiston into a multi-ethnic, multi-racial city, which has embraced diversity and change," Somali elders wrote in their letter. "A city of 36,000 people, in the middle of the whitest state in the country, has suddenly become an international city."
FreeRepublic , LLC
PO BOX 9771
FRESNO, CA 93794
If you want on (or off) of my black conservative ping list, please let me know via FREEPmail. (And no, you don't have to be black to be on the list!)
Extra warning: this is a high-volume ping list.
FR is our public radio/tv. Support FR! The Fall Telethon is underway!
In other words, they trashed the town and are bankrupting it.
I guess it's true: immigrants take the welfare checks that native-born Americans just aren't willing to take.
I'm glad to see that this alleged Christian is apparently making no attempt to wean them from the worship of the demon known as Allah.
1) My...for immigrants, these Somalis sure found all of the right "guilt buttons" pretty quickly. They are playing the fools in Maine like a violin. Try moving anywhere in the third world and pulling this garbage....see what happens.
2) Ideas have consequences. Looks like the Yankees up in Maine are finally going to have to practice what they've spent the better part of 2 centuries preaching.
There are very few non-white persons in Maine compared to all the other states (I know because I live here and because I've done a lot of research with Census data for my classes). But I believe it's not about race; rather, it's about culture. You can't have a lot of people moving into town who go about building mosques, needing translators, having eight kids, and collecting welfare. If these were American blacks (that is, descendants of "involuntary immigrants"), rather than Somali refugees (who don't share a common culture & who require a lot of support), there would not be such a problem.
... "Many of us say, 'Bring your friends. Build your community together,' " said Mark Schlotterbeck, city missionary at Calvary United Methodist Church. "We are all children of the same Creator. Let us share our resources."
Oh, have you folks got a nasty surprise coming.
Now you understand the problems in Mississippi.
Why would any community want a group of people who have a 50% welfare rate? Why are they even in the US if they can't work?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.