WATERVILLE — A group of about 15 people stood outside the Waterville Planning Board meeting Monday night, calling on board member Catherine Weeks to resign for alleged comments she made to her Iraqi neighbors that they are not welcome in the all-white neighborhood and that they should go back to the country from which they came.

Darby Beaulieu, holding a sign that said, “Weeks Must Go!,” said it seemed as if time was passing by and nothing was happening with the Weeks issue, so Beaulieu organized Monday’s event.

“My main concern is that this would just fly under the radar,” Beaulieu said.

Isreal Mosley, from left, Evan Randles, Leo Livshits, Rebecca Green and Darby Beaulieu protest Monday outside the Waterville Planning Board meeting. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Beaulieu started a group called “Active in Kennebec County.” She said the group does not try to make political statements. Rather, it tries to make statements about issues including equality and racism.

Weeks is also a member of the city’s charter commission, which recently completed its work.

The neighbors of Weeks are seeking a protection from harassment order against her. Those neighbors claim she has photographed them, told them they are not welcome in her white, American neighborhood and said they should leave.

The neighbors of Waterville Planning Board member Catherine Weeks have filed a request to have a protection from harassment order applied against her. A court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

The summons for protection from harassment order request, filed Aug. 20 at Waterville District Court by Rasmiya Fezaa and Falah Waheeb of 12 Mount Pleasant St., says members of the Iraqi-born family are afraid of Weeks, who lives next door at 10 Mount Pleasant St.

Weeks videotapes them with her cellphone, repeatedly calls the police on them and had one of their guests’ vehicle towed from the street near their house, costing $100, according to the document.

Weeks, who was absent from Monday’s Planning Board meeting, disputes their claims. She did not immediately return an email seeking comment Monday night, nor did she respond to a request for a phone call. Weeks also did not respond to an email and message left Tuesday on her cell phone seeking comment.

In a telephone interview last month, Weeks denied having told her neighbors they are not welcome here and should go back to the country from which they came.

“All I can say is, at this time, my property rights have been destroyed, and I have never had a direct conversation with this person, nor have I ever seen his wife,” Weeks said. “I am just defending the property that has been destroyed. That’s all I’m going to say at this time. The evidence will come out in the court.”

In 2015, Waheeb, 54, moved to the United States from Iraq and lived for a year in North Carolina before moving to Portland and then Waterville in May 2019. He received his U.S. citizenship this year.

Waheeb worked for the U.S. government in several capacities in Iraq, including as a translator and commander of a task force, and was operations and training manager for a security company.

In Iraq, he helped save the lives of many Americans, he said. Eventually, he fled the country because people he knew were being killed, including his boss. He moved to Maine because he heard it was a safe place to raise his family.

After the matter with Weeks became public, people in the Waterville area rallied in support of Waheeb and his family, visiting him and his family, writing letters and bringing gifts.

Bruce Salsbury, owner of Grass Eaters Lawn Care & Maintenance, said he will attend the Sept. 28 hearing. Salsbury said recently in a telephone interview that he witnessed Weeks say racist things to Waheeb.

“She said, ‘You people need to go back where you came from. I don’t want you here.’ She just said he was not welcome, and go back to his own country,” Salsbury said. “She didn’t have any use for them. They shouldn’t be here.”

The Waterville Police Department issued a meeting and assemblage permit to the group “Active in Kennebec County,” said Beaulieu, of Waterville, for the period of 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Monday outside Mid-Maine Technical Center, where the Planning Board meeting was held.

The group demonstrated quietly, standing by as Planning Board members and others entered the building. Evan Randles held a sign that said, “Racism Has no Place in Waterville. Weeks, Resign.”

“I just think that racism has no place in our local or federal government,” Randles said. “It would be nice if we all stand together and say we don’t want this here and let’s not allow it.”

Rebecca Green, a Democrat running for the Ward 4 City Council seat against incumbent Republican Sydney Mayhew, attended the demonstration. She said it was disappointing that after a councilor asked if the council should discuss the Weeks issue at the last City Council meeting, there was little discussion.

“My feeling is, yes, there’s due process, but because she represents the city, it’s important for us to show that we don’t support that position,” Green said. “She’s representing the city. She’s making decisions that could be affected by potential bias. I think she needs to step down until the legal matters are resolved.”

Isreal Mosley, one of the demonstrators and a veteran, said Waheeb risked his life to help Americans and he should be treated with respect.

“It makes me feel good to know this city came together and showed this man actual kindness when he needed it and when he deserved it,” Mosley said.

Elise Rich-Colton said she is not familiar with Weeks or Waheeb, but had heard Weeks was disrespectful to Waheeb because of his religious background and country of origin.

“I came here to kind of learn more about what’s going on,” Rich-Colton said.

If Weeks did treat Waheeb disrespectfully, it is not a good thing, she said.

“To have that kind of viewpoint is not where we want to be,” she said.

Walking into the meeting Monday, Planning Board member Bruce White, who also is a state representative, said he appreciated that everyone was being respectful.

“I’m waiting for the decision of the court,” he said. “We want Waterville to continue to be a warm and welcoming community.”

Planning board members are nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the council. The council can remove a planning board member for cause with a 2/3 vote, according to City Solicitor Bill Lee.

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