Bates College in Lewiston held an evening program on Monday to send the message that all was calm now in Lewiston, ME, that indeed the locals have gotten the message and are now accepting of the large Somali population growing in their midst.
Maybe an occasional “micro-aggression” will occur, but for the most part, critics have been silenced.
Before reading this Sun Journal story (via the Bangor Daily News), please read or re-read our post (It’s the Welfare Magnet….) on how Lewiston became a magnet for secondary migration of Somalis originally resettled elsewhere.
Here is this week’s news from Lewiston:
LEWISTON, Maine — Bates College hosted a panel discussion Monday evening with community leaders, students and local immigration activists on the past, present and future of the local Somali community.
The title was “Understanding Barriers to Integration for Immigrants in Lewiston-Auburn.”
Members of the panel included former Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert, City Councilor Craig Saddlemire, Fatuma Hussein of United Somali Women of Maine, and anthropology lecturer Heather Lindkvist.
The discussion centered around the early Somali settlement of Lewiston leading up to the Many and One rally in 2003 and how far Lewiston, as a community, has come since then.
For new readers, Gilbert went to Washington in July 2011 to tell the US Senate how great everything was in Lewiston and how the Somalis were causing an economic boom for the city, BUT they needed more federal money! Go figure!
Presenter Fatuma Hussein (who came up from Atlanta and is quoted in my post on the welfare magnet, linked above), had this to say:
“We’re here and the sooner people realize that, the better,” Hussein said.
And, the anthropology lecturer, Heather Lindkvist, said this:
Lindkvist spoke of how, before Many and One, there were women and children who were afraid to go out into the community. She said it created barriers for all involved because it prevented interactions with the community.
She also addressed how some feelings about immigration may have been pushed beneath the surface.
“Feelings need to be addressed,” Lindkvist said, “or we will face micro-aggressions” and other small, explosive outbursts between community members.
Micro-aggressions? What the heck?
I know she must be talking about those swarms of Somali youths (some as young as 8 years old) who were attacking people randomly on Lewiston streets. I told you about it here. This is what the Sun Journal said at the time (isn’t it a good thing I copied the story because the link is now dead):
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.
So, I’m guessing when Ms Lindkvist says women and children feared going out on the street, she was referring to the indigenous inhabitants of Maine. It’s good to know that they feel safe now and only need to be on the lookout for an occasional “micro-aggression.” I wonder what macro-aggression might be?
For more exciting events in Lewiston, go here to our archives.
Update: Things not so copacetic in Portland!