Groups call for Lewiston mayor to step down

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal (file)

Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald 

LEWISTON — Angered by comments Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald  made to state and international television reporters, two Maine-based organizations are calling for him to resign.

The Lewiston office of the Maine People's Alliance is gathering signatures and online support for a petition it plans to present to City Hall later this week.

Gen Lysen, the lead organizer for the MPA's Lewiston-based Androscoggin County chapter, said the group collected hundreds of signatures from Lewiston residents and at least 1,000 had signed an online petition asking Macdonald to step down.

Meanwhile, the African Diaspora Institute based in Portland also called for Macdonald's resignation during a Monday evening press conference outside Lewiston City Hall.

The petition would not have any legal standing and the city's charter does not contain any provision for recalling a mayor.

Macdonald drew sharp criticism last week for comments he made, first to the British Broadcasting Corp. in a documentary aired in September and then to WGME television in Portland when he attempted to clarify those comments.

Messages left for Macdonald at his office and home were not returned Monday evening.

Macdonald has said his comments, which seemed to be aimed at Lewiston's growing population of Somali immigrants, have been blown out of proportion but others have said the comments are just the latest in a long series of divisive things the mayor has either said or written.

Lysen said that pattern includes portions of columns Macdonald has published in the Twin City TIMES, a free newspaper that is circulated once a week in the community.

"The first request we make is for an apology," Lysen said. "However, given how since before he was elected he's been making disparaging remarks about immigrants and this has been a pretty constant attitude coming from his office we are asking for his resignation as well."

Macdonald has written a weekly column, titled "Enough is Enough" since he first took office in January 2012. Macdonald's column did not appear in the latest issue of the newspaper, which came out last Thursday.

"The mayor’s office shouldn’t be a platform for making these kinds of racist and anti-immigrant statements," a statement on the MPA's website reads. " Mayor MacDonald should apologize for his remarks and should resign as mayor so that we can put this behind us and move forward, creating a stronger community together."

That statement also details some of the things Macdonald has written that the MPA has taken issue with, including a column where Macdonald wrote in part " . . . submissive Somali women turn into obnoxious customers at the grocery store cash register."

On Monday, Lysen called Macdonald's statements and writing, "hate speech, racist and frankly bigoted." She also said that members of the Somali community were concerned his words would encourage others and even incite violence in the community.

"Folks in the community are worried about what may happen and are feeling like that because we have one of our elected officials encouraging those feelings and those thoughts," Lysen said. She said many in the Somali community came to Lewiston and Maine because it's a safe and peaceful place. "And here they are being faced with words that could incite hate and violence," she said.

On Monday, Laurie Steele, the publisher of Twin City TIMES, said in an e-mail message to the Sun Journal that Macdonald did submit a column for the latest edition but it was not published. 

"With the media frenzy surrounding the mayor's comments, we thought it would be best to let everything settle down," Steele said. "We want to be clear that the mayor's comments and columns do not reflect our personal opinions or the editorial position of Twin City TIMES."

She said the newspaper was not in the habit of censoring opinion columns or letters to the editor. 

"TCT still believes in the First Amendment right for citizens to express themselves, even if some of those expressions are considered inflammatory by other citizens who object to them," Steele said. "While we do not share many of Mayor Macdonald's opinions, we published his column because it represents a point of view held by many residents of Lewiston. We have received many phone calls and e-mails urging us to continue running the mayor's columns."

Steele said her newspaper would continue to monitor the situation and would decide whether or not to continue Macdonald's column.

Meanwhile,  Mohammed Dini, African Diaspora Institute's executive director, said at Monday's press conference that it was important for Somali immigrants, including those who are American citizens or even born in Maine, to say no to hate speech.

"We don't want anyone else to defend us, we are actually Mainers and we can speak for ourselves and tell people how we feel," Dini said.

He said the Macdonald's statements regarding culture were completely counter to the view of an American melting pot that most Maine people and most immigrants believe in.  He also said Macdonald's latest statement was just one more in a long list of things he has said or written about immigrants in Lewiston.

"I don't know who he was talking to, but as Somali-Americans, as Mainers our culture is an American culture that embraces diversity, a culture that defends the First Amendment and everybody's religious rights and that culture is a melting pot culture and what we call American culture and American values," Dini said. "So we don't know who he is talking about."

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Andrew Jones's picture

The comments section on the

The comments section on the Twin City Times website for the 'Enough is enough" article is quite amusing.

Timmy Derboghosian's picture

to throw out the mayor

I'd like to say we all have the right to speak how we feel! it's freedom of speech. we also however cant dictate who lives in the twin city's and who shouldn't! i do however believe it's time to take our city's back over. they do need to get over thier problems with the city. the mayor should not step down! and he need's not to say he's sorry? for what? speaking for what he believe's. he's just saying what alot of people are to scared to say. i believe they have the right to be here, but look at all the changes we have to go through to make this a peacefull place for them to be? the xmas tree is now the holiday tree? no more exchangeing valintine card's in the school system? no more honoring the country's flag in the morning before school starts, because it's not thier flag? this country's going to shit, because we the people allow it to happen. the welfare system is in great debt because of all the goverment gives to help out. if they want to be here, they should have to live the american way, period! we should never have to bend for anybody coming to the u.s just to make a better place for them to be here. america is the land of the free for all! but it's the all that have come to the u.s that we have let in that has brought this place to what it is today! we did it to ourselves people. until we put a stop to helping others flee thier country's and more into this country's people it will be forever in debt! we have 1,000's of americans homeless and hungry take care of your own, before you take care of others!!!!!!!!!

Catherine Pressey's picture

You got to be kidding, we are not saying the pledge to the flag.

You got to be kidding, is this true that we can not say the pledge to allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. Wow! Because it is not their flag! If it is not their flag than let them go home we do not say they have no right to be here this is a free country that taxes us to death. But we the people of this country owe much to our country, one thing we owe more than any in the allegiance to what the country stands for and that is FREEDOM. We are going to no longer have that freedom if other come here and want to establish a country within our country.
They need to come here and stop this repressive behavior, that tries to change our way of life. Just because they do not believe in our God, it is not in our best interest to change our whole way of life. They can sit and or stand in the class room and prey be silent. While our children say the pledge, if they can not say the pledge then we should ask ourselves are they friend or foe. Now as long as they come here in peace accept that we are a country and we the people are proud to be an American.
My mum as I stated in my earlier post was a war bride, she was so proud to be here and could not in anyway understand those that would not be proud, proud enough to one of us. I personally feel that our God is not the only name he has. I DO SAY TAKE BACK OUR RIGHTS TO THE PLEDGE AND TO NOT BE AFRAID TO SPEAK OUT, OUT OF FEAR. I already have been attacked for telling the wee story about my mum. I am still not ashamed of my mum, stepping up and caring about this lady in the hot looking clothing.
I DO NOT WISH THEM TO GO BACK HOME JUST REMEMBER THAT THIS IS OUR COUNTRY, LIKE IT OR LEAVE IT. LIKE WHO WE ARE AND BE OUR NEIGHBORS, NOT OUR REPRESSORS. That is what this is sounding like more and more, I am so tired of hearing WA WA , and this nice young Somali woman talking to the news people reading a speech Nimo Yonis what and where on earth is she basing that she is now more fearful of her safety. What about the rest of us, each day that they continue to complain about this and that.
The only fear that they should have is fear itself. I can not believe that any of us would want to harm them. HOWEVER! LET one elected official stand up and say Enough is Enough and they try to take his job, and his integrity, he said his comment were taken out of context or content. MOVE ON SOMALI’S STOP THE ATTACK. I READ ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, TRULY NOTHING AWFUL WAS SAID IN THAT OPINION.

Julie  Allarie's picture

Mayor of ALL the people

"She once while in the company of my daughter was in one of the lobies(sic) of a housing Athority(sic), when she noticed a Somali woman sitting in the front, mum sturnly(sic) stepped up to that person and said listen your(sic) in America now you do not have to dress like that."

I cannot imagine how the Somali woman felt as your "mum" "sternly stepped up," and told her she didn't have to "dress like that!" Did it occur to your "Mum," or you, that the woman might have been proudly wearing something she just bought or just made? Who gave your "Mum" permission to tell ANYONE what they ought to be wearing? Personally, I am offended by loud sweatshirts with logos shouting to the world; "Hey, lookie here, I just got back from Branson/Las Vegas/Florida/Disney." And when you highlight the bright pink lettering by wearing bright pink socks, it gives me a headache. But so do Crocs.

Unless your "Mum," is Joan Rivers and is paid to insult fashion do's and dont's, I think she might be better served if she just said; "Hello."

And Gordie, I imagine your; "rabbits," comment will be flagged as abusive soon. Seriously? I'm Catholic and your people use to say the same thing to my relatives. It's nunya, as my 10 year old would say. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

Catherine Pressey's picture

nunya I disagree

Look here in America we do have the right to our opinions and it was my mums opinion that the woman need to be told that she looked out of place and that she looked hot and sad to say the least. Further more I doubt that the Somali woman even understood what my mum was trying to tell her. However how you can get that this a religious issue is so so funny because it has been known that Somali women are not directed to dress that way in their religion.
However that was not my intent on my wee story. So you believe that this comment should be flagged as abusive I think you comment is more abusive to all Americans that came here from away. And became citizens and are proud of it. And the Queen of England had the Mary Queen of Scotts beheaded because she was catholic. And my mum was Scottish and proud of her country and lived side by side with other Scotts.
In the name of all that is holly and fair lets leave religion out of this, when the French Catholic's came in this area they were told that they could not have special treatment in our schools so they did the right thing they opened the Catholic Schools. Somali's want to be treated far better and want the tax payers to carry what is their own responsibility to educate their own.
Who told you that my mum should need to ask permission to tell someone from away that it is OK to become one of us. Not detached and stand out from other Americans, we do not need permission to speech our minds, how do you know that that woman is not being controlled or abused. All we know is here we can not afford to have our freedom of speech taken away from us.
Any more than my mum could make that Somali woman change her clothing. It is her right! Also her right to ignore those that saw her as different. That being said as long as they look different they will always face adversity. Either people see them as friends or otherwise. I take your comment is abusive and that is OK we all have opinions though I am laughing at your anger. And you assume that my family is not Catholic.
My comment is to support the freedom of speech and the right to express ones self. Thus only then can one protect all man kind from the Hitler’s of the world and them that would stifle our freedoms. DO NOT TELL MY OLD MUM WHAT TO SAY lol that is better left unsaid. Lighten up This is my opinion. I honor the Mayor for standing up for his opinion and his intent is his opinion. And just possible was a bigger picture, I understand how misunderstood he may be. You comment proved that. Glad to hear it none the less, that’s what makes us Americans, you have yours I mine. Good day to you!

Julie  Allarie's picture

God save the Queen!

Dearest Catherine,

You might want to read my original post again. I wrote that comment from someone named "Gordie," ought to have his comment flagged as abusive. Sheesh.

If you honestly believe that it is appropriate for your "Mum," to approach a Somali woman and make a comment about her clothing, please describe what you are wearing so that I may decide if it meets my standards.

Thank you,

Julie Allarie

Catherine Pressey's picture

standards.

Julie now that we are friends and I can see beyond your years. What makes up this country is people and lots of people including you. may not like what I am wearing. I could care less much like our Somali friends they could care less what we feel or think. They choose to do and war what the wish, that being said still they stand out as from away and not one of us. And the men in their homes wear what the want and do blend in. This comment that I made about my mum was the truth and though my daughter may have not thought it a good thing.

What I again am trying to point out is our freedom of speech here. Do you know you can swear at your neighbor, in this country. Be it swearing or saying good morning it is our American rights And yes I do not think so bad about my mum stepping up proudly to this stranger in a foreign clothing and telling her what she felt. For mum came here proud to be one of the Americans not a separate country within our country.

And that is what this amounts to, separatism if they choose to look different they will get stares no different than what you may do if you do not like loud colors or pants hanging of ones butt. In all honesty give me a break my mum was way into her seventies at the time. And when one lives that long, they just may speak without understanding, of the reasons this woman or anyone would continue to dress like that.

I am not about pushing my likes on anyone but I am about my right to speak my mind if need be. May not be a need in your eyes, but once again we are surely on different pages on what freedom of speech is all about. I still agree with the Mayor for not backing down he said that his comment was taken out of content. And we all know that a story can change a whole bunch if not for one word. I was not there and the person that wrote the story may have left out key words. That being said FREEDOM OF SPEACH IS WHAT WE AMERICANS HAVE AND NEED TO KEEP TO STAY FREE AND INTERATIVE.

If not we shall cease to be free and can end up repressed much like the Somali's may have experienced.... It is not repressive to speak out and I again thank you for your opinions. Though misdirected you should be glad that we do so have that right to speak out. No different than if one sees a person hurting a kid or other human being. It is not unjust to say to someone "Hey you know it is OK here ,if you want to dress like the rest of we Americans, that looks so hot and uncomfortable. Maybe that Somali woman thought about what mum said and now dresses as she wishes either way. It may have given her food for thought. Or maybe she will not be upset when her daughter chooses to just fit in to the main stream Lewiston Auburn mix or all types of good Americans just living their lives. That is my opinion.

Catherine Pressey's picture

nunya I disagree

Look here in America we do have the right to our opinions and it was my mums opinion that the woman need to be told that she looked out of place and that she looked hot and sad to say the least. Further more I doubt that the Somali woman even understood what my mum was trying to tell her. However how you can get that this a religious issue is so so funny because it has been known that Somali women are not directed to dress that way in their religion.
However that was not my intent on my wee story. So you believe that this comment should be flagged as abusive I think you comment is more abusive to all Americans that came here from away. And became citizens and are proud of it. And the Queen of England had the Mary Queen of Scotts beheaded because she was catholic. And my mum was Scottish and proud of her country and lived side by side with other Scotts.
In the name of all that is holly and fair lets leave religion out of this, when the French Catholic's came in this area they were told that they could not have special treatment in our schools so they did the right thing they opened the Catholic Schools. Somali's want to be treated far better and want the tax payers to carry what is their own responsibility to educate their own.
Who told you that my mum should need to ask permission to tell someone from away that it is OK to become one of us. Not detached and stand out from other Americans, we do not need permission to speech our minds, how do you know that that woman is not being controlled or abused. All we know is here we can not afford to have our freedom of speech taken away from us.
Any more than my mum could make that Somali woman change her clothing. It is her right! Also her right to ignore those that saw her as different. That being said as long as they look different they will always face adversity. Either people see them as friends or otherwise. I take your comment is abusive and that is OK we all have opinions though I am laughing at your anger. And you assume that my family is not Catholic.
My comment is to support the freedom of speech and the right to express ones self. Thus only then can one protect all man kind from the Hitler’s of the world and them that would stifle our freedoms. DO NOT TELL MY OLD MUM WHAT TO SAY lol that is better left unsaid. Lighten up This is my opinion. I honor the Mayor for standing up for his opinion and his intent is his opinion. And just possible was a bigger picture, I understand how misunderstood he may be. You comment proved that. Glad to hear it none the less, that’s what makes us Americans, you have yours I mine. Good day to you!

Catherine Pressey's picture

Mayor Lewiston

First of all I agree with the Mayor, if you want to come here much like my mother did during the war. And she being a war bride, and a member of the British Army, mum came here believeing in America. She once while in the company of my daughter was in one of the lobies of a housing Athority, when she noticed a Somali woman sitting in the front, mum sturnly stepped up to that person and said listen your in America now you do not have to dress like that. And she was right some might have felt mum was being raciist when she clearly could see when a woman is being kept down. The men do not dress in the attire from the home country, how now are we to believe that they are not being abused. As a matter of fact lots of store owners are having issues with foreign dressed persons that demand special treatment and are very insistant that they be accomodated at great lengths. Some of us out here are now feeling like we dare not speak our minds on this subject for fear we are going to face the wrath of our Government. Freedom of Speech is dying here in our land. In the name of being good neighbors. So Lysen stop trying to twist everything and make it bigger than it is. The Mayor has much more knowledge in the matter than one might believe. And as far as the Twin Citi Times I think they should keep pubishing what is freedom of the press though it is not necessarilly their opinion. Do not ban any press or any opinion that is what America is all about the melting pot of all opinions, and should be welcome in a free country. That is my opinion.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Mayor Lewiston

First of all I agree with the Mayor, if you want to come here much like my mother did during the war. And she being a war bride, and a member of the British Army, mum came here believeing in America. She once while in the company of my daughter was in one of the lobies of a housing Athority, when she noticed a Somali woman sitting in the front, mum sturnly stepped up to that person and said listen your in America now you do not have to dress like that. And she was right some might have felt mum was being raciist when she clearly could see when a woman is being kept down. The men do not dress in the attire from the home country, how now are we to believe that they are not being abused. As a matter of fact lots of store owners are having issues with foreign dressed persons that demand special treatment and are very insistant that they be accomodated at great lengths. Some of us out here are now feeling like we dare not speak our minds on this subject for fear we are going to face the wrath of our Government. Freedom of Speech is dying here in our land. In the name of being good neighbors. So Lysen stop trying to twist everything and make it bigger than it is. The Mayor has much more knowledge in the matter than one might believe. And as far as the Twin Citi Times I think they should keep pubishing what is freedom of the press though it is not necessarilly their opinion. Do not ban any press or any opinion that is what America is all about the melting pot of all opinions, and should be welcome in a free country. That is my opinion.

 's picture

1st Amendment

Mohammed Dini, African Diaspora Institute's executive director states "...our culture is an American culture that embraces diversity, a culture that defends the First Amendment..."
funny how he claims to defend the first amendment yet attack McDonald for using it. I do not agree with what McDonald states, but going about it this way, then pointing out that you defend the 1st amendment is hypocritical.
Many politicians state things we don't like to hear, but having a knee jerk reaction such as asking for his resignation is just as bad as the comments he made.
Perhaps reaching out to him and getting on board with him to help the City prosper is something better. I know it will also take his cooperation too, but I don't really see any local Somali leader approaching him to work together. Read this: http://www.twincitytimes.com/columns/enough-is-enough-extremist-liberals...

Catherine Pressey's picture

Read this:

Thank you for the link: Honestly I did not read this twincitytimes article until now though I sure commented about FREEDOM OF SPEACH. But I guess I must not understand, what all the Somali fuss is about, I saw nothing in the article that was out of line, actually thought the Mayor was just venting about much. Nothing in this seems to me to be so abusive or out of line that the Somali's should be so outraged, I did not read Hate in the article from the Mayor, the only Hate I read was the first comment from what appears to be a Somali man. Hate all through a short comment. Wow! And we are supposed to understand them, also. The way they aproached this simple article wow! They have oh so much to learn about Amercans and they are their own worst enemies. I quite frankly found the story interesting and gave me food for thought. Thanks for the link. Somali's need to lighten up! Mayor stand tall, what insults about beating a dead man. In the election, sad.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Read this:

Thank you for the link: Honestly I did not read this twincitytimes article until now though I sure commented about FREEDOM OF SPEACH. But I guess I must not understand, what all the Somali fuss is about, I saw nothing in the article that was out of line, actually thought the Mayor was just venting about much. Nothing in this seems to me to be so abusive or out of line that the Somali's should be so outraged, I did not read Hate in the article from the Mayor, the only Hate I read was the first comment from what appears to be a Somali man. Hate all through a short comment. Wow! And we are supposed to understand them, also. The way they aproached this simple article wow! They have oh so much to learn about Amercans and they are their own worst enemies. I quite frankly found the story interesting and gave me food for thought. Thanks for the link. Somali's need to lighten up! Mayor stand tall, what insults about beating a dead man. In the election, sad.

 's picture

THE MAYOR DEVERSES A HIGH-5

This Group can go fly a kite!! The Mayor hit the nail right on the head... The Salami's think they can come in here & AUTOMATICALLY get EVERYTHING Full Food stamps & $1600 a month SSI They are transients They stay here until there initial benis run out & then move.. but the main problem is they are breeding like rabbits! When Catholic Charities moved the first 300 here that opened the flood gates there are now over 3500 of them here.. and Downtown Lewiston has turned into Little Mogadishu. NONE of them carry insurance on the " Community vans" as they all say it belongs to someone else.

Ok I'm off my Soap box.. but the facts are the facts

Catherine Pressey's picture

I doubt that kite would fly.

I agree with you Gordie, no one gave most of our forefathers that kind of money and our forefathers would not have taken charity, they came here hard workers and proved it with what Lewiston and Auburn was like. And the Manufacturing and shoe shops abounded. Heck they even would completely refurbish and paint the apartments that they rented, they did not put chickens in the cabinets and open their hands to give me this and that. I am sure what most of us would be blowen away if we only knew how much this Group is costing the tax payers and now they are a theart to our freedom of speech. I do not believe that any American should walk around on edge for fear of insulting them. They frequently now are yelling Hate crime statements. I think they hate more than any one of us long time Americans. Hate for speaking out, they truely have no understanding about our cultures either. Are you serious that we now have 3500 living here. I wonder how may are taking from the system, I sure hope it is not all. Just maybe the Mayor knows more than most of the rest of us. SO GLAD YOU SPOKE OUT ON THIS, though Julie did not like you much. SSI too! and our Government wonders what is wrong with the Math, and adding one and one. Makes two and continues to grow. I THINK THEY SHOULD MOVE BACK TO THEIR COUNTRY IF IT IS SO BAD HERE. If all they have to worry about here is a comment being taken out of content. MAYBE THEY SHOULD SHUT UP AND SMELL THE ROSES. They have it made in this here old country and we here are American and will speak out if we want. No hate intended! Just my opinion!

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Did I miss something...

...pardon me...just woke up from a nap...did we rescind the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution? Ninety percent of the things that come out of the mouths of liberals offend me, but I defended their right to say them for 30 years and still do.

America used to be the great "melting pot" now we have groups who want to see the balkanisation of our country and think it's a good thing. It's not by the way; history proves it over and over again. There are major continents that are still in the third world due to following this course of action; alas I see our country, under the current administration going the same way.

Join me in voting for conservative candidates who understand our Constitution. I certainly will.

One nation under God...hope I didn't offend anyone.

 's picture

Mayor

The Mayor should have kept these words to himself...They should not have been made public...Very disrespectful to the Somali comminity therefore he should step down...Sometimes we just need to keep our mouths shut...

Catherine Pressey's picture

Disrespectful NOT

The Mayor has the right to tell it the way he sees it. And if a reporter takes a comment out of content or drops a word or misunderstood the Mayors intent that is the freedom of the Press. And we can not abridge that right or the right to speak our minds for fear of loosing what our Great country is all about.

This so called Group comes here and and takes, and takes, and that is their right. So you think that the Mayor should keep his mouth shut. I so do disagree! I think like the Primeminister of Austrialia said a very similair statement. That their country was based on Christian belief. and that those that come here are welcome to live and work side by side. with their Christian neighbors. But if the want special treatment and do not like the way the country was founded, she suggested they had rights too! THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO MOVE BACK WHERE THEY CAME FROM or just go someplace else., if they only have to fear a comment Oh well to bad.

We grew up on the old saying that sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me or something like that. We as American will not walk around keeping our mouths shut, we have freedom of speech here. They disrespect the country that now feeds them they disrespect the principles of our constitution, also disrespect the Mayor and his hard possition that their numbers are surely putting on the limited social programs. THEY SHOULD BACK OFF AND TRY TO SEE THINGS MORE CLEARLY:

If you want to be here buck it up and take the disapointments like we all have had to when we have someone say something that, Quite frankly just may be the truth. THE MAYOR SHOULD NOT STEP DOWN he is looking out for all of his tax payers. That Brenda is my opinion Freedom of speach is not a bad thing and never should be tred on. Or we shall have a country much like the one they left.

Donald Dostie's picture

As a Lewiston resident, I

As a Lewiston resident, I don't agree with organizations coming here to sign up residents for a Mayoral recall. If the residents of Lewiston seriously want to ask for Mayor MacDonald's resignation, then we can organize ourselves and work with City Council members toward that end. Having said that, I find Mr. MacDonald's comments unfortunate. My father and the rest of his generation suffered humiliation when speaking French in public because English speaking residents couldn't understand what they said. Mayor MacDonald should choose his words wisely and work to bring our community together, not divide us, especially when the majority of Lewiston residents are descended from immigrant Quebecois and Acadians who suffered from the same ethnic conformity policy he espouses. Mayor, you need to apologize to all of us and work towards bringing us together if you want to represent us well.

The Somalian community could be more hospitable. My wife, who is Thai, and I walk Lisbon street at times and we feel like strangers in our own hometown. This is an issue that can be addressed by everyone being more approachable and welcoming. When we greet people or smile, we should be greeted and welcomed, not stared at with no response. On that note, the Somalian community needs to understand that they must work with us to create a trusting and welcoming environment. Reach out to the rest of us. How about a community event inviting all residents to experience the music, food and culture of their homeland right on the sidewalks of Lisbon Street in front of their businesses! Who knows, they might gain some customers. You have work to do if you want to feel more a part of our community.

We have an opportunity to promote an International Zone on Lisbon Street. Perhaps the City should create policies or if they exist, promote the policies in place, to support businesses that have an international flavor. With all the parking garages, we could have more restaurants, cafes and clubs in line with Fusion, Mother of India and other businesses already in place, all easily accessible within walking distance of easy parking. We have a great museum nearby, more shopping experiences like the Old Port offers would be a great addition. If our City leaders continued working towards that kind of a revival of Lisbon Street, we would be the talk of the State, not the laughingstock because of unfortunate comments by our Mayor.

Catherine Pressey's picture

unfortunate comments

In freedom of speech no such word should be held up. Unfortunate. they Mayor has said that he was taken out of content and not going to say I am sorry! Thus I agree he should not say he is sorry if by some degree a word of his opinion was mis quoted. Give him a break here. I agree with lots of what you said, in this comment but you flip flop about how you and your Thai wife feel when you walk down Lisbon street. You see how it is they want to be welcomed but are not welcoming to say the least. Just ask many store clerks how it is to deal with, how rude some of them have been to the clerks. They need to leave it alone the comment for what ever it was worth was he Majors freedom of speech and his knowledge of the city finances etc., we do not have to pussy foot around these people. And as for the French they were hard workers and from my knowledge of the same did not put their hand out for free anything and worked hard to build Lewiston and Auburn. They also worked hard to learn to speak English because they wanted to fit in. No one hired translaters for them. They also opened their own schools because they could not get the tax payers to allow their Catholic teaching in the school. No special treatment that cost the city large amounts of dollars. Like what is now a burden on the city, yes a burden on us all. They should try to understand that money does not grow on trees here in Amercan and they need to take some responsbility for their own language education. Pay for it themselves, much like the French endured. BOTTOM LINE FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS WHAT OUR COUNTRY IS FOUNDED ON. ONE CAN NOT ABRIDGE THAT. MAYOR OR NOT. I STAND ON HIS RIGHT. AND STAND UP AND SAY IF IT IS SO BAD HERE they are free to leave. No one here is shooting at them or repressing them like they say was happening in their country. A word or opinion can he open up debate and understanding, without trying to remove someone for an opinion. That is my opinion.

Jason Theriault's picture

A few things

First off, Both of the groups getting involved serve the area. One based in Portland, the other has a chapter in Lewiston. It's not like the groups are comming from NYC or California.

Second, I don't blame the Somalis from being less hospitable. They came to a starnge land, and people have had a mixed reaction. From the clan comming up here to do a rally to someone rolling a pig's head in their mosque. And then add in the comments of your mayor(I live under the crimson banner of Auburn), and I don't blame them for circling the wagons.

I agree that we would all be better off working to include them, but Lewiston will need to step up and elect a mayor who wants to build up Lewiston for all Lewiston residents, not just the ones he likes.

Catherine Pressey's picture

So sick of hearing how strange our land is.

So strange then why are they here. A pig head is just a pigs head, lots of us eat pork and we are still here. Some of us maybe do not understand how a simple pigs head scares the heck out of them. Not that I agree to that happening. Clan been here before more than once. Not all about them. Boy are they in trouble if they need to circle the wagons in our country when they are getting fed and medical treatment and and and. So when the circle they only come out when the need us. And they return safe and sound oh with the exception of a hurt feeling, and they disrespecting our way and contitution. Let them understand in this country words are how we communicate, good or bad. And they should not get upset with the Mayor he is in a hard place to figure out how to make ends meet. And he is an American that has the right to THE FREEDOM OF SPEACH.

Jason Theriault's picture

Really

How are they disrespecting the Constitution? The mayor said dumb things. He is 100% allowed to say dumb things. Then, the Somali community said "Hey, we think you should quit". Their opinion, and 100% allowed to do. They are not forcing him to quit, nor are they setting an Lewiston City Hall on fire or other criminal acts you see in place that lack free speech. That is how our nation works. Sound like they are respecting the heck out of our Constitution

"And they should not get upset with the Mayor he is in a hard place to figure out how to make ends meet. And he is an American that has the right to THE FREEDOM OF SPEACH"

NO. You do NOT get to tell a group not get upset and to then not express it, exercising their right to free speech. Sounds like you're the one disrespecting the Constitution.

Catherine Pressey's picture

DUMB THINGS

You say it was dumb, maybe it was the way the reporter,. reported his comments. Our consititution does not protect us from others saying dumb things as long as they are not hate crimes. I do not believe that any thing this Mayor has said comes anywhere near that.

I have no problem with them taking their opinions to the Mayor himself an have a meeting with him to see truely what he was trying to say. They can think he should quit, I do not think so. They are overly sensitive given the chip they seem to have on their shoulders.

As for the disrespecting our Constitution, they are, they are here and need to understand that that very thing that upset them is the same thing that protects all of us. FREEDOM OF SPEECH And freedom to tell the Mayor as far as they are concerned he may be out of line. There are avenues for them to honor the City of Lewiston and the Mayors office by standing up and educating us all that the Mayor statements wrong and show us. By not making a Mountain out of a mole hill, I as so sick of hearing (wa wa from this group) they have so much to be thankful for and they sure do not seem to be. They seem to bring with them a hate and conflict attitude and with my Constitutional right. Just maybe they could meet with the Mayor and work it out and come to a understanding without going off half cocked and pushing their demands for a OH I am so sorry. From the Mayor. Maybe like most Americans they could start to take the good and leave the bad comments mine or others if they do not like mine. Alone and stop bringing attention to them selves.

I sure have no desire, to stop them from speaking out I do not know where you get that Idea, I just think in all honesty that letting a comment make such a big splash, by centering on it. What I said was if it is so bad simple words should not bother them, maybe they should go back where they came from, because no one here is attacking them. Shooting at them , what we have here in the country is FREEDOM OF SPEECH and that protects them, and you so pointed out that the sure know how to work that part of our culture. WA WA WA If they get so upset over words no wonder they ran out on their own country with people shooting at them. They are welcome to stay as we all know and they are welcome to go if they choose.

I take what you said and ponder it. Yep! Sounds like I am disrespecting NO ONE. And certainly not our Constitution I might think your funny or going off half cocked, that too is a matter of interpetation. What I believe here is parts of the Mayors thought or statement was miss quoted as he said, if the Somali's have issues they just might need more education to understand our culture and how we interact. Just look at yourself, you get your dander up over nothing more, than a personal opinion. And attack me, thank you, that is what our country is about our differences. And FREEDOM OF SPEECH no malice intended End of comment

Donald Dostie's picture

Pig head is just a pig head?!

Throwing a pig's head into a place used for religious purposes is hateful and wrong. No doubt the mayor has every right to freedom of speech, he also has responsibilities to all of our residents and to not encourage bad press and a bad image for Lewiston. I also have that same freedom of speech and I exercised it on a very rare basis in public for several reasons, one being that I care about Lewiston's image having lived, worked and worshiped here for many years. I disagree with all of your comment except for the facts that Mayor MacDonald is an American and he has same right of freedom of speech. He just needs to use more discretion as a public servant representing Lewiston.

Catherine Pressey's picture

So sick of hearing how strange our land is.

So strange then why are they here. A pig head is just a pigs head, lots of us eat pork and we are still here. Some of us maybe do not understand how a simple pigs head scares the heck out of them. Not that I agree to that happening. Clan been here before more than once. Not all about them. Boy are they in trouble if they need to circle the wagons in our country when they are getting fed and medical treatment and and and. So when the circle they only come out when the need us. And they return safe and sound oh with the exception of a hurt feeling, and they disrespecting our way and contitution. Let them understand in this country words are how we communicate, good or bad. And they should not get upset with the Mayor he is in a hard place to figure out how to make ends meet. And he is an American that has the right to THE FREEDOM OF SPEACH.

Catherine Pressey's picture

So sick of hearing how strange our land is.

So strange then why are they here. A pig head is just a pigs head, lots of us eat pork and we are still here. Some of us maybe do not understand how a simple pigs head scares the heck out of them. Not that I agree to that happening. Clan been here before more than once. Not all about them. Boy are they in trouble if they need to circle the wagons in our country when they are getting fed and medical treatment and and and. So when the circle they only come out when the need us. And they return safe and sound oh with the exception of a hurt feeling, and they disrespecting our way and contitution. Let them understand in this country words are how we communicate, good or bad. And they should not get upset with the Mayor he is in a hard place to figure out how to make ends meet. And he is an American that has the right to THE FREEDOM OF SPEACH.

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