LEWISTON — A resolution aimed at denouncing the recent appearance of a Neo-Nazi group in the city was amended and approved by the City Council on Tuesday, adding language that also condemned “all forms of hate and violence” in Lewiston.

Councilor Lee Clement, who introduced the amended version, said his resolution “reinforces and augments” the version brought forward by Mayor Carl Sheline, but several councilors and the mayor argued that it “watered down” what was meant to be a direct response to white supremacists.

According to several reports, a group of about two dozen people from the Nationalist Social Club-131 assembled in Kennedy Park and walked through nearby neighborhoods on Oct. 2. An image on the group’s page on the social networking service Gab showed members holding a sign stating “End Somali Violence” in front of City Hall.

In response, Sheline said he introduced a council resolution, which among other statements, said, “The Mayor and Lewiston City Councilors reject white supremacy and condemn white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups for spreading hatred, seeking to dehumanize our residents, and intimidating and threatening our community.”

Clement’s version says the city condemns white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups, “and all others who seek to spread hatred, dehumanize our residents, and intimate and threaten our community,” and that “threats, intimidation and violence, no matter by whom committed, constitute illegal acts.”

While Sheline’s version said the council “will always stand in solidarity with anyone targeted by this group’s presence and reaffirm that our community is a place that welcomes all and is strengthened by diversity,” Clement’s says the council “will always stand in solidarity with anyone targeted by any group or person’s presence and reaffirm that our community is a place that welcomes all and is strengthened by diversity and respect for law and order.”


Clement later said that the city has recently seen six shootings, robberies and stabbings, and that the violence “needs to be addressed.”

Councilor Stephanie Gelinas said that while she supports the general language of Clement’s resolution, the initial language was a direct response to the neo-Nazi gathering.

“The intent of the initial resolve was to respond very specifically to something that happened in our city,” she said. “I think that needs to be called out very specifically.”

Councilor Scott Harriman said he was “disgusted” to see that the out-of-state group came to Lewiston. He said they “could’ve stopped many places,” including Portland, “yet they came here because they thought they’d find more friendly faces up here.

“I don’t think anyone should have a problem calling out Nazis,” he said. “Any City Council would condemn violence in general. The difference here is Nazis.”

Councilor Linda Scott also agreed with sticking with the original document, stating that the appearance by the masked group was “hate speech.”


“The intention is to cause hate and fear,” she said.

Councilor Rick LaChapelle said he had “no problem with either version,” and has “no problem calling out white supremacy.” But, responding to Clement’s version, he said, “We have people coming here who are committing some heinous crimes.”

Members of the public, including Elizabeth Eames, questioned the need for the amended language.

“I don’t understand what the fear is. Why are you scared to call out white supremacy?” she said.

Former councilor Luke Jensen said the original resolution “didn’t go far enough,” and questioned why the public wasn’t informed of the proposed amendments until during the meeting.

“When you add things at the last minute, it destroys trust,” he said.

The council ultimately voted 4-3 to approve Clement’s amended language, with councilors Clement, LaChapelle, Larry Pease and Bob McCarthy in favor. Both LaChapelle and McCarthy are running for the Maine legislature this November as Republicans — LaChapelle in District 21, and McCarthy in District 93.

Earlier in the day, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement on the council’s upcoming vote on the resolution, calling on community leaders to “repudiate white supremacy and xenophobia.”

“We urge the Lewiston city council to adopt this resolution as a way to express the city’s solidarity with the targeted communities,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

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