January 8, 2003
This letter is to request a statement of solidarity for the Somali
community of Lewiston Maine. This community of about 1000 in a town of 35
000-36 000 received a letter from the mayor telling them to stop coming
because they had drained the others in the town emotionally, physically,
and financially. Since then, the National Alliance, which is a pretty big
white supremacist group in the States, has been recruiting and spreading
there racist message in that town. On January 11th, 2003, The World Church
of the Creator, another white supremacist group, is going to have a talk
there. For more information, please visit:
We are trying to collect statements of solidarity by Friday night so that
we can give them to the Somali community when we go down there on the 11th
of January. If you would like to show your support but do not have the
time to write up a solidarity statement, attached is a No One Is Illegal
letter that you can endorse. Please send either your statements of
solidarity, or confirmation that your group endorses the letter below to
email@example.com by Friday night. (January 10, 2003)
In solidarity, Salma from the No One Is Illegal Campaign in Montreal
To the Somali community of Lewiston,
On behalf of The No One Is Illegal Campaign in Montreal (which is a group
led by immigrants/refugees fighting for the rights of our communities and
in solidarity with First Nations communities), we want to extend our
solidarity to you during these difficult times as your community is
undergoing unjust racist attacks.
All too often, in times of economic or security crises, the blame falls on
immigrant and refugee communities. These communities are made to feel like
they have overstayed their visit and are abusing a generous favour granted
to them by the government of that land. When Mayor Larry Raymond blamed
your community for the depressed economy of Lewiston, he falsely implied
that your community had less right to work than the others in that town.
As refugees fleeing a war, it is your right, not a special privilege, to
live in dignity and respect wherever you choose. And once there, you have
as much right as anyone else to have a job, to have a family and to make a
new life for yourself.
The white supremacists coming to your town claim more entitlement on this
land than any immigrant or refugee, but they forget that their ancestors
were also foreigners that migrated here. They cannot in any credible way
tell your community, or any other community, that you are invading their
territory (which isn't even theirs in the first place) when governments
set up by their own immigrant ancestors brutally massacred, and continue
to massacre almost the entire population of the real natives of this land
that had so openly welcomed them when they first arrived.
Unfortunately, as has been done in the past, the period of economic
uncertainty and the despair of people struggling to make ends meet has
been used to divide the population by blaming the recession on a certain
community. If people are given scapegoats, they are less likely to look at
the root causes of the problem of poverty and unemployment.
We want to convey to you our solidarity as you resist the white
supremacists' attempts to put your community down, as you resist the
racist scapegoating fuelled by the mayor and other racists that claim that
you are somehow imposing on them, as you resist further displacement, and
we stand in solidarity as you assert your right, which is no less than
anyone else's, be they white or not, to live in dignity and respect.
Members of The No One Is Illegal Campaign in Montreal
Mayor Raymond's letter to the Somali community
October 1, 2002
For some number of months, I have observed the continued movement of a substantial number of Somalis into the downtown area of our community. I have applauded the efforts of our city staff in making available the existing services and the local citizenry for accepting and dealing with the influx.
I assumed that it would become obvious to the new arrivals the effect the large numbers of new residents has had upon the existing staff and city finances and that this would bring about a voluntary reduction of the number of new arrivals - it being evident that the burden has been, for the most part, cheerfully accepted, and every effort has been made to accommodate it.
Our Department of Human Services has recently reported that the number of Somali families arriving into the city during the month of September is below the approximate monthly average that we have seen over the last year or so. It may be premature to assume that this may serve as a signal for future relocation activity, but the decline is welcome relief given increasing demands on city and school services.
I feel that recent relocation activity over the summer has necessitated that I communicate directly with the Somali elders and leaders regarding our newest residents. If recent declining arrival numbers are the result of your outreach efforts to discourage relocation into the city, I applaud those efforts. If they are the product of other unrelated random events, I would ask that the Somali leadership make every effort to communicate my concerns on city and school service impacts with other friends and extended family who are considering a move to this community.
To date, we have found the funds to accommodate the situation. A continued increased demand will tax the city's finances.
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.
I am well aware of the legal right of a U.S. resident to move anywhere he/she pleases, but it is time for the Somali community to exercise this discipline in view of the effort that has been made on its behalf.
We will continue to accommodate the present residents as best as we can, but we need self-discipline and cooperation from everyone.
Only with your help will we be successful in the future - please pass the word: We have been overwhelmed and have responded valiantly. Now we need breathing room. Our city is maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally.
I look forward to your cooperation.
Laurier T. Raymond Jr.
Mayor, City of Lewiston