This is how far we have fallen: an American mayor asks immigrants to America to become Americans and adopt American values, as all immigrants did in the past, and they're demanding his resignation. Of course, we've seen it many times: Muslims do not adapt. Non-Muslims must adapt to them. And so it is here. But if our society and culture were healthy, the President and politicians all over the country would be rushing to the aid of Lewiston's mayor, instead of letting him twist in the wind.
Maine mayor: Somalis should leave culture at door Associated Press – Thu, Oct 4, 2012
Associated Press/Robert F. Bukaty - Community advocate Nimo Yonis leads a protest chant against the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. Critics of the mayor delivered petitions asking for his …more
Somali immigrants and their supporters in this former mill city in central Maine say Mayor Robert Macdonald should apologize and step down for what they call repeated anti-immigrant remarks, including telling a British Broadcasting Corp. interviewer that immigrants should "accept our culture and leave your culture at the door."
A group of about 50 protesters rallied outside City Hall on Thursday before delivering 1,400 petitions to Macdonald's office, asking for his resignation.
The mayor's remarks sounded like he was telling immigrants to abandon their religion, their language and their identities, said Nimo Yonis, 26, one of an about 6,000 Somali refugees who live in Lewiston and the neighboring city of Auburn. The mayor's words were painful, hurtful and "represent hate," she said.
"Basically, he's telling us to forget who we were," Yonis said. "Just leaving your culture at the door is leaving what you believe, what you stand for and who you are at the door."
Macdonald has attempted to clarify his comments, saying immigrants should try to assimilate into American culture. He has said his comments were taken out of context, and has claimed he never said anything derogatory about Somalis.
Macdonald was not in his office Thursday and didn't immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press.
His words have rekindled memories of a decade ago when then-Mayor Larry Raymond wrote a letter in 2002 asking Somali leaders to discourage friends and family from relocating to Lewiston, saying the city's resources were "maxed-out."
The first Somali immigrants arrived in Lewiston in early 2001, moving 40 miles north of Portland because of plentiful, cheap housing. By the time Raymond wrote his letter, nearly 1,000 Somalis had moved to the Lewiston area.
The outrage over his letter attracted international attention and spurred a 4,000-person rally at Bates College, urging Mainers to embrace the influx of immigrants. During the rally, a small number of white supremacists who called for the expulsion of the Somalis gathered elsewhere in the city.
With the current mayor, critics say Macdonald has made repeated inflammatory remarks about the Somali population.
He wrote in a local weekly newspaper that "submissive Somali women turn into obnoxious customers at the grocery store cash register." He also wrote that he was tired of news stories about Somalis being treated poorly; most complaints, he wrote, came from "boo-hoo white do-gooders and their carpetbagger friends."
He later told a reporter that immigrants shouldn't "insert your culture, which obviously isn't working, into ours, which does."
Mark Cayer, president of the Lewiston City Council, read a statement Thursday on behalf of the whole council saying the mayor's comments were his alone and not representative of the council or the city as a whole.
The letter written by Raymond in 2002 and Macdonald's words last month are "two totally different scenarios and two different moments in time," he said.
"But clearly there was division in the community at that time, and there's still evidence of a division now," he said. "But overall I think the community will grow from this."
Related, previously at Atlas: Muslim Youths Wilding in Maine
LEWISTON — In the early evening on the first day of summer, a large group of Somali boys approached a woman on the corner of Ash and Pierce streets. According to police reports, they intimidated the woman and slapped her in the back of the head before scattering into the downtown.
Five days later, shortly after midnight, a man was accosted by a group of Somali boys outside the Big Apple on Main Street. Police reports say several members of the group punched the man and took money from him. They then fled in a car.
Later that night, a woman in her late 60s was beaten by a group of Somali boys and relieved of cash while walking in Kennedy Park.
Five nights later, another man was jumped by a group of similar description. He resisted the gang and was beaten badly. He required surgery.
Throughout the summer, similar reports have come into the Police Department. Witnesses and investigators say swarms of Somali boys, some as young as 8, others in their late teens, overwhelm solitary victims through sheer numbers.