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Enough is Enough: LHS graduation marred by teens’ rude behavior

By Robert Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Many came. Many left happy, too many left upset.

Pomp and Circumstance, just as promised. This was Lewiston High School’s graduation ceremony held last Friday at the Colisée.

The LHS staff, responsible for organizing and putting on the event, are to be congratulated: their efforts paid off in a ceremony second to none anywhere in this vast state. The many uncompensated hours by staff members shows their devotion to both LHS and Lewiston.

On the stage, members of the Lewiston School Committee and the high school’s administration awaited the honor of passing out diplomas, certifying the success achieved over the past four years through desire, hard work and sacrifice. On each side of the assembled seniors sat teachers beaming, watching the fruits of their labors file into the arena. Proud parents watched as the accomplishments of their sons and daughters reached fruition.

Watching the young men and women walking to receive their diplomas was very moving. Many I remembered from the middle school, and now they were graduating. Many of the graduates displayed their academic achievements through the ornamentation displayed on their gowns: light-blue sashes representing membership in the prestigious National Honor Society; white-and-purple stoles indicating membership in the National Technical Society; and a multitude of cords, medallions, sashes and stoles, each one indicating success in a particular area.

During the program, graduates, staff and teachers spoke to the assembled audience and the graduates. They spoke of the future, noting success is achieved through hard work, desire and a can-do spirit. Sentimentality took front stage when the graduates were reminded they will always remember their friends, teachers and the good times while at Lewiston High School.

Now to the point. I have briefly tried to create a picture of the hard work needed to put this graduation together, including the hours of work by the Lewiston High School staff and teachers, sacrifices made by parents and four years of academic work by the graduates. Unfortunately for many in attendance, especially those sitting in the far end of the arena, farthest from the stage, the juvenile behavior of many around them denied them much of the audio portion of the ceremony.

A once-in-a-lifetime moment in their lives was taken from them by the rude behavior of teenagers, immigrants and unproductive parents who had little or no appreciation of the importance of this night in their child’s life. Throughout the arena, you could see kids texting and talking on their cell phones after being asked to turn them off.

To the rear of the arena, there were many immigrants speaking on their cell phones in voices so loud that those trying to hear the ceremony were denied that right. Many were asked to quiet down, but the request was ignored.

I find the behavior by these immigrants puzzling. Most appreciate the education they are being given, especially females, many of whom have been denied this right in their native land.

Many of the immigrant children I worked with at Lewiston Middle School worked hard and were motivated when it came to getting an education.  This was the path to success and freedom. On graduation day, they stand out. Most immigrants are dressed to the nines; they were contrasted by a portion of their counterparts, who looked like they just got off work at the mill.

Lastly, Lewiston residents have opened our city to refugees from oppressive refugee camps, which harbor crime, disease and hunger. We have provided them safety where they can thrive. The majority of our refugees appreciate the opportunity they have  been given. They love this country.

Yet, there are still a number that take advantage of our generosity and act like we owe them. Well, news flash, we don’t!

During the singing of our National Anthem, these ingrates chose to sit talking to each other or talking on the phone. They need to be reminded that when the “Star Spangled Banner” is played, they are expected to show it the same respect and courtesy that U.S. citizens show it.

They are guests here, and they are expected to adapt to our culture. If this is too much to ask, then perhaps it’s time to leave.

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46 Responses to “Enough is Enough: LHS graduation marred by teens’ rude behavior”

  • PAUL BOUFFARD:

    I TOTALLY AGREE , THE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ESCORTED OUT BY SECURITY OR BY POLICE ! WE HARD WORKING NATIVES TO THIS COUNTRY ,THIS STATE ,& THIS CITY ARE BECOMING SECOND RATE RESIDENTS ! WITH 23MILLION PEEOPLE OUT OF WORK & 15 TRILLION IN DEBT WE MUST START ASKING OURSELVES HOW MANY IMMAGRENTS CAN WE AFFORD TO TAKE OUR JOBS & HOW MUCH MORE WELFARE CAN WE AFFORD ,WILL CHINA PAY FOR THESE PEOPLE? ? ? ? ! ! !

  • Fritz Spencer:

    I heartily endorse the comments of the mayor.

    Robert Macdonald is one of the very few Americans who are brave enough to speak the simple truth about what is happening to our nation.

    Among elected officials, this sort of truth-telling is rare indeed.

    And here is the simple truth: there are many among us who hate our nation and its traditions.

    This is all part of the planned destruction of America.

    It will be sad to lose Maine after 400 years.

    And there is a reason why there are few good schools and graduation ceremonies in Somalia.

  • My wife and I were there for my niece who was 4th in her class.We witness the same disrespect as noted by our mayor.This happens way too often at different events! Maybe it is time we do have the police remove them until they find their manners and show respect to the people and function they are at!

  • Dad:

    Praise to the Mayor for taking a stand in this matter !! This is precisely why I voted for him!! I was not in attendance there but I see this rude behavior in other venues around the city. I also rent to some and have had others want to rent from me and they want everything. Aside from including the heat, they expect me to pay for there hotwater and electricity (they even go as far as to TELL me that I have too),hook up washer and dryers even though I have a coin-op laundry, change style of stove even though the one there is in great working order. Time to tighten the belt Maine. Patience, money and hospitality are running out.

  • Alyce:

    Reading this column, I feel as if I have been magically transported back to 1920, when Maine had the highest KKK membership outside of the south.

    Really, “Twin City Times”? You are going to publish a piece of unfettered bigotry such as this? Did you think that you’d attract the misplaced resentment of L/A residents looking for scapegoats, and thus increasing your click-throughs? Desperately trying to scramble to the top of the junk heap, apparently.

    Mayor MacDonald, when not oddly obsessing over immigrant women, spends his time looking for ways to divide the community he is charged with leading. He looks at certain Lewiston residents and with the small mind of a bigot can only see them as outsiders, unwilling to cultivate meaningful partnerships that move the city forward. As such, Lewiston will stagnate under his ‘leadership’ until the next election, in spite of the best efforts of residents who don’t take their cues from the rhetoric of the Jim Crow era.

    • send em all back , and I can tell Alyce has never lived next to them or had them in her neighborhood …if she did …she’ld be moving or complaining , unless she’s dating one !!! I have had a business in the neighbor hood of one of their Mosque and like 6 other local businesses have had to close cuz they took it over , and I won’t even let or allow my wife to even come close to Kennedy park , even in the day time , never at night !!!…GO MCDONALD !!!! ALL THE OTHER MAYORS COULDN’T DO IT , and when one Mayor spook up , he was shut down for asking they slow down the influx , it would of served them better if the weren’t so greedy and inconsiderate ….they wonder why they had a hard time in their country , and want to live the same way here with free money…that’s the only difference !!! Don’t they realize that that’s their problem , …I say be a man and take care of your family and stop squelching off the system …..ex- Mayor Raymond was right , slow it down !!!!! I would never live in downtown Lewiston , and on another note : If they make the Bates # 5 building a partial low income apartment complex , …you can really kiss the downtown good-bye….it’ s already starting to look pretty rough down there now , with the 15 or 16 somalian stores that all look the same and have 15 or 20 hangarounds in each of them …ppl …when you gonna wake up !!!!…..and the trash !!! good luck walking down Knox st. or the back side of Bates st. ….they’ve been kicked out of many area’s in this country ….cuz of their unwillingness to right , it’ll never be a better country for them , if they keep living off the system ….

    • WiccanWen:

      @ Alyce…it is not bigotry it is the truth.

      A hundred years ago the state was inundated with another large population of foreigners. The French Canadians. Only when they arrived they were not allowed to live off the system they weren’t given housing, jobs or food stamps…they had to eek out a living the best way they could. It is because of them that the twin cities are what they are. They were, and still are, a hard working people with a proud heritage.

      Now the African population explosion of our day has seen low income housing eaten up, general assistance funding drying up and the DHHS budget getting wiped out. My French Canadian in-laws are bi-lingual…they had to learn English because they are in an English speaking country.

      I could recount many tails about the unfair treatment of native Mainers but here are just a few as an example.

      My 20-ish daughter was sitting in Kennedy park, waiting for a friend. A Somalian man walked up and assaulted her in broad day light with people walking by. She pushed the man away and walked to the police station right across from the park and was told there was nothing they could do because they all look alike!

      My neighbor had just graduated nursing school and had rewarded herself with a brand new vehicle. A Somalian boy thought it would be fun to key the sides and hood of said vehicle. Getting nowhere with the parents of said child, she phoned the police who told her “he didn’t know any better!”

      Lastly Auburn’s graduation ceremony wasn’t much better. Although, I’ll admit, it was mostly white trash rednecks hooting and hollering their pride, there were quite a few unattended Somalian children left to run rampant. They started by running back and forth behind and above the stage area, waving and making noise. Then they began to dismantle the balloon arches at both entrances and what really got my goat, as people were trying to exit the building a handful of them, with pins and needles, were frantically trying to pop the balloons and hit quite a few people while the security guard just looked on. After they popped all the balloons, they proceeded to run back and forth in the foyer ripping posters off the walls and trying to break the soda machines.

      I say Alyce should spend a good deal of time in downtown Lewiston and maybe she’d get as ‘bigoted’ as the rest of us supposedly are.

      • Chris:

        Hate to break it to you…100 years ago there was no such thing as a “system” to live off of. History buff, eh? How about this one: “75 years ago kids never had cell phones!”

    • david:

      really alyce, the ones the mayor refers to and he did not point to all of them, are definitely not part of our society, they are bottomdwellers looking for nothing but freebies.

    • Mary:

      To Alyce Above ,

      My heart goes out to you so much as I see your education and lack of commen sense is way below any of our immigrants and our own American people !

      My suggestion to you is to pack your belonings and I will pay for your plane ticket and you can go and live in there country and preach your ways …. Lets just see how far you would get !

      Thank you to all our soldiers who are fighting for our freedom of speech to let such idiots as above speak freely !

      • Joe:

        First of all, don’t judge someone on their education when you’re not spelling correctly or using punctuation.

        Alyce is the only one who sounds compassionate. That’s the kind of neighbor I would want.

        I thought a Mayor’s job is to unite a city. This article only causes dissension and leads us to make judgements.

  • Trish Springer:

    It’s sad to see Lewiston going backwards instead of forward. I remember when lower Lisbon St was all bars and head shops. Lewiston put a lot of money and effort into making it a beautiful place to live and work. Now that the immigrants have taken over that area, it has turned back into an eye sore and everyone is suppose to just sit back and accept it because it may be taken the wrong way. Well there is a time to be still and there is a time for action. It is time for action. I no longer live in Maine, partly because of the ignorance going on there. Everyone in Maine is free to speak except for the people born and raised there and it is wrong. I pray the Mayor of Lewiston takes back the streets and schools for all to enjoy, not just those who are undeserving.

  • Heather:

    I attended last year’s LHS graduation to watch my younger brother graduate. I am a number of years older than him and so I’ve watched him grow into a smart and wonderful young man. It was a proud moment for me, being his older sister and like the mayor stated, this was a once in a lifetime chance. Most of the family on my Father’s side drive from over 2 hours away & we ended up running late getting to the graduation. This forced us to sit in the far back. We couldn’t see well because of the balloon arches, but they were a nice touch in trying to decorate for the joyous occasion. Until the ceremony began, we thought that we’d at least get to hear it, despite not being able to see very well. We were completely wrong and I walked out of that place swearing that I would never attend another LHS graduation again, and that my unborn son, for whom I was pregnant with at the time, would NEVER attend Lewiston schools. I was completely disgusted at the lack of respect by… hate to say it ALYCE…. only immigrants. Everything that the Mayor described in this article occured in last year’s graduation as apparently it did this year. I saw only immigrants yelling at their children, who ran around like a bunch of animals. It was these same people engaging in loud conversation with the people standing next to them, yelling at others over a crowd of people, and talking on their cell phones….all throughout the ceremony. I missed this once in a lifetime opportunity, as did my proud Father, who was watching his only son, and the youngest of his children graduate. Honestly, it was a waste of time to even leave our home that night. I saw my brother standing in line before the ceremony began, and I saw him exit the ceremony as it came to a close. I hardly heard his name being announced as he received his diploma. I’ve never been so dissappointed. When I read this article, all I could say was “It’s about time”. I’m proud to say that I voted for Mayor Macdonald. Alyce: You have not a clue in this world if you are to be so naive about what is happening in this community. Lewiston is no longer a thriving city and certainly not a healthy place for my child to grow and learn. I see trashy people of all races throughout the city, but who else is going to be attracted to this area when jobs are slim to none, businesses can’t thrive, and the crime rate continues to climb. I’ve grown up in this area my entire life and it’s never been as bad as it is now. All I have to say to those opposed to the Mayor’s article, open your eyes.

  • Linda Duguay:

    I am in complete agreement with the Mayor…the immigrants that have come here did so to be FREE of their country…Some have become citizens and should be acting like a citizen, none respect what we have given them…The Freedom to live in peace.
    They are the most rude, unappreciative people ever. They seem to think that because they are here we OWE them…WE DON”T…THEY OWE US…we have given them freeedom from their country.
    They need to think about what they now have here in AMERICA…
    Instead of looking down on us, they need to thank us for their freedom, instead of being rude, they need to think about what we have given them.
    Respect us, respect our Flagg, respect our country.
    They think they should have it all…they are here in our country for Freedom, we have given them that…now they need to step up and live the life we have given them.
    Our Govenor has already started, by stepping down on welfare…it is time we stop giving and giving, we owe them nothing more than what we have already given them, FREEDOM…
    They owe us…if they don’t like us or AMERICA, then they need to go back to their land…Either respect us and our Country, appreciate what we have given them, earn things like we do, stop thinking we owe them, abide by our laws or GO BACK TO THEIR LAND.
    They are welcome but need to stop acting like we have to bow to them and give what they want…It has to stop and the sooner the better for everyone. Live here and love our Country and their freedon,and appreciate the life they now have or leave.

  • Rodd St.Pierre:

    Let me preface my remarks by stating unequivocally that I am not, nor ever have been racially insensitive. All human beings have inalienable rights. That being said, I am still appalled at what has become of my hometown. I was fortunate enough to move away at age 25 to live in the desert southwest. Six years ago, I returned to a completely different Lewiston/Auburn than the one I had known.
    In Arizona I found, that despite the racial diversity that existed, not one ethnic group stood out so negatively in the community as do the Somalis in Lewiston. Sure, there are many more ethnicities in Arizona. Those of Mexican decent are the most prevalent. But they are in stark contrast to the Lewiston Somalis I’ve witnessed. There, those of Mexican heritage have done their best to assimilate themselves into society and the very fabric of Americana. And they’ve done it without losing their identity. As a matter of fact, their culture is now a huge part of what Southwestern living is revered for. They’ve embraced becoming Americans with all that’s involved.
    Here, meanwhile, it’s a different story. In Lewiston in particular, the most visible part of the Somali population seem to have done their best to erase Franco-American heritage and steadfastly replaced it with their own customs without regard to those around them. After all of the efforts to ‘clean up’ lower Lisbon Street from what it was 30+ years ago, the preponderance of Halal markets, replete with people milling around them at all hours, has set the ball rolling in the wrong direction. It’s not that all are genetically disposed to being as rude, thankless, and reliant on state hand-outs. But that is the perception that most are led to by the actions and attitudes of the lawless & uncaring few. It’s time for the Somali population to police their own. Families must not allow their children to run amok and afoul of the laws. They must overcompensate now due to lack of effort in the recent past. Bottom line, they must learn some respect for their new home, their neighbors, and surroundings.
    We don’t OWE them anything. As a community, we’ve given and given to the point of allowing Mainers to suffer because the state is now overburdened with the amount of freebies that have been allowed over the past 10+ years. When they begin to feel ENTITLED TO these hand-outs, they will begin to demand more (a different type of stove, freedom to make major changes in the apartments they occupy, free cell phones, etc.). This is the same for Somalis and non-Somalis alike.
    Lastly, the Somali community needs to face the fact that we allowed them here, helped them make the transition. Now they want to recreate Lewiston as another Mogadishu? I think not. This is, and will always be, America. Let’s fight to keep it that way.

  • Tony Croteau:

    America has been made the greatest nation on the planet because it accepts people of every nation, creed, religion, race, etc. It is because of that diversity that it has found its strength throughout its history. Previous immigrant generations realized it was THEY whom were stepping into a new beginning; a chance to change their lives for the better by taking the ambition they possessed to leave their country for whatever reason they held & expand on that ambition by learning the “lay of the land” in the new surroundings they found themselves in. Along the way of doing that, they were quite often wrongfully met with bigotry and hypocrisy – but they endured and learned. Learned how to adapt; how to “fit in.” Because of that, our heritage has gleaned SO much richness and strength!! Why is it now being encouraged by mostly progressives to turn a blind eye to an immigrant who is NOT exampling that same ambition, instead rewarding them for their barbaric behavior so prominently displayed in public? Instead of just giving welfare dole outs to them to pacify them, why are we not teaching them respect – for themselves, for their neighbors, for their new found country? They question I have for them is a simple one that DESERVES a simple answer – If you have such little respect for the nation and neighbors who have welcomed you with open arms and are providing SO much for your welfare, why do you stay in our country, considering you have such disrespect and animosity toward our way of life? Why should anyone show you respect and tolerance when you do not show the same toward the neighbors who have welcomed you and have given THEIR money to assist you (through our government; it is NOT the government’s money – it is the TAXPAYER’S money!). I admit; I was not at the LHS graduation mentioned – but I have most definitely seen similar behavior on the part of the Somali “visitors” and it defies logic as to why the demand from them as well as progressives is to turn a blind eye and excuse the same barbaric behavior that led to the death of many of our servicemen in Mogadishu back in the early 90’s. Have we learned nothing from that? Isn’t it an offense to all the preceding immigrants who DID adapt, who DID show respect for our nation and our system of laws and interaction – isn’t is an offense to us all to just turn a blind eye as if that is some sort of solution instead of educating these “visitors” as to the expectations of their neighbors since it is THEY who CHOSE to stay in this country and in this neighborhood? The short answer to those questions is a resounding “Yes!!” “Yes!!” – it IS an offense to the rest of us that they are handled/treated with such special favor and that we should be expected to allow that, which has not been realized by ANY OTHER immigrant class previously!! “Yes!!” – it is an offense to our system of government and ALL of its provisions for the less fortunate when people who CHOSE/CHOOSE to be in this country are allowed to remain in refugee status for a decade or more!! When WILL it be OK to expect them to assimilate and provide for themselves rather than deplete the resources that other FAR less fortunate neighbors need? We are teaching them NOTHING if we continue this path of indifference and tolerance. If THAT is what is meant by tolerance, expected from progressives – then I’ll pass, thank you. Until they show toward their neighbors the same tolerance and respect they demand, then they will likely NOT receive that tolerance and respect they demand – because it is not reciprocated BY THEM. That is something that has ended America’s fine tradition of being the melting pot of the world – because one class of immigrants is allowed to stop the melting process. SHAME ON ANY/ALL OUR REPRESENTATIVES IN EVERY SECTION OF OUR GOVERNMENT FOR TOLERATING THIS BEHAVIOR AND EXPECTING THE REST OF US TO JUST CHOKE IT DOWN!!! That is NOT the American way!!! And it should NOT be tolerated by any of us citizens who are thankful for the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. It is high time the Somali community realizes that they get what they give – and so far, we haven’t seen them give too much. But they’ve SURE taken a lot from the rest of us, haven’t they? Why is that right, when NO OTHER person, regardless of their nationality, would be allowed to get away with that?

    I echo my fellow citizens; if they do not like the standards of this nation and the expectations of mutual respect by their neighbors, then they should leave this country – because all they are doing is making a mockery of our nation and destroying the strength SO many have worked SO hard to build up. And that goes for ANY other person who doesn’t like our American way of life. If you don’t like it, you have the right to leave it. And the rest of us would appreciate it if you would.

  • Pete:

    It’s hard to imagine there’s not a significant amount of racism in an article that starts off by portraying itself as describing problems with a high school graduation and then turns into how immigrants should leave the city. The characterization of Somalis by the author and by the commenters below as all the same is disgusting at best. Additionally there doesn’t seem to be any sort of understanding for the reasons behind the behaviors listed or even consequences for the behaviors but rather just rants about how this group of people are horrible without facts to back it up. Very happy I look don’t live in Lewiston anymore.

  • Amanda:

    There it is…the racism card…it always comes down to “we” don’t understand, or “we” look at them differently. I work in the public with every type of human being known to man. I work along side different types of people every single day, and have respect for those who have respect for me, and for the things provided to them. I do not have respect for ANY culture, group of people, age group, etc that cannot have common sense and courtesy. It is a shame that it always comes back to what one group is not doing for another group…no understanding…blah blah blah. It is simple…either you have respect for those around you, or you don’t. Either you take the time to learn cultures, and even if you don’t celebrate those cultures, you respect them, or you don’t. Either you treat others as humans, or you don’t. I think the article stated the facts very very clearly. It stated that the largest group that were being disrespectful, and disruptive were the immigrants, and the unproductive citizens of Lewiston. Period. Anyone who was there, knew who was being disruptive, and if you weren’t, don’t throw around words such as “back it up”. I think I am not alone, when I say, I too, am very happy that you don’t live in Lewiston anymore either, if you have that mentality….Very happy indeed. I bet your family members graduation was not ruined by immigrants or unproductive members of society was it? Nope, cause you don’t live in Lewiston….

  • Disappointed Teacher:

    Newsflash: The VAST majority of these Somalians you speak of are in fact US citizens…many of them were born here and are not in fact immigrants. The Mayor should have done some fact checking on that…also, I too work at a school and attend several graduations a year, and the same thing happens in the almost 100% white ‘native mainer’ town I work in…it is not about race or immigration status…rude ignorant people come in all colors and religions. I see people wearing hats during the national anthem, texting during the passing of the color guard, etc, all the time. So saying that citizens respect the culture is nothing but rubbish. And When people named MacDonald and Bouffard and Guay and Burns, etc talk about being ‘natives’, I laugh. Clearly they have forgotten history, and don’t remember that their ancestors were not welcome here either. This article is racist, xenophobic, nationalistic bigotry disguised as a piece about manners. Shameful coming from an elected official…

  • Bonnie Bannister:

    I find it appauling the level of disrespect I see today. Teachers and administrators have been faced with this in black AND white children. At the middle school graduation I noticed black , white and inbetween teens not holding response even when asked. I’ve had many Somali students who would never display rudeness, are very studious and polite.Their parents that would not let their children behave this way. They teach them to respect teachers and value education. They come in, shake my hand, and say “Thank you for teaching my child.” Somalis are among my most appreciative parents. Somali women often cook all kinds of food for all the teachers to show appreciation. This year my Somali families (who have jobs) bought all kinds of school supplies for our class. Year after year I have Somali children and parents like this. Im not saying rudeness should be toletated and I share some frustrations, however it’s dangerous to assume ALL of one group is bad.

  • Ruth Becker:

    This article is an embarrassment to the city of Lewiston. It’s racist, bigoted, and fundamentally incorrect. No one ruined he graduation for the graduates. It was wonderful, and part of that wonder lay in the accomplishments of Somali students who despite all manner of hardship managed to graduate from high school, many going on to college. Yes, there were rude people at the event. There are every year. There were before 2001. Those people come in every color, size, gender, and are of every age. To single out one group and basically tell them to go back to where they came from is the crudest form of prejudice. Of course immigrants use resources and need support. They also contribute energy, diversity, insight, and vitality. The Somali community has softened the impact of the recession, the housing bust, and school budget cutbacks on Lewiston. This is a developing symbiotic relationship that benefits everyone while it blends us, over time, into one community. That’s the story of this country, the best part of our history. There are lots of different people in the world. Isn’t it time we learned to live cooperatively with one another? There’s no place for the ignorance displayed in this article and some of the responses.

  • Unless each of the above responders are Native Americans, then they are ALL, without except, of immigrant stock. As a teacher in Lewiston, I have witnessed rudeness across ethnic barriers. Most teachers will agree that when the Pledge of Allegiance is said in school, many have to be reminded to show the earned respect that such a pledge deserves.Take a good look at sports stadiums when the National Anthem is sung and it will be immediately evident that respect, for the most part, has gone to hell in a basket.Is the pregnant woman, or the elderly person afforded right-of-way? How often? The above examples are to prove the validity of the statement the rudeness comes in all colors, nationalities, and ethnicities. The “B” word and the “F” word are used by most with great relish and with little consideration for the age and gender of the person being addressed. One good look at the vitriol that is spewed at high school and professional sports by the fans of the losing team brings the reality that there is a ship receding into the distance whose passengers are Politeness, Cordiality, Courteousness, Pleasantness, Empathy, and Compassion, to name but a few. A much faster ship rapidly approaching our shores is one whose passengers are Loud, Rude, Dispassionate, Arrogant, and the leader of that flock, Let’s Blame the Immigrant.
    At my daughter’s COLLEGE graduation, an caucasian parent, like so many others, was so bent on getting a picture of the graduating offspring that he bulldozed his way through four other parents, never mind that they too, were attempting to take pictures. When little white kids run around during an event the remarks usually heard are “look at that cute little boy”, or “isn’t he adorable”, or “kids. What are you gonna do? At least they are being exposed early, right?” The crying babies are seldom frowned upon because that’s what babies do. However, when it comes to our new residents, who are not all Somali, and for the most part are citizens, NOT GUESTS, then there are remarks like those published here. I do commend this paper for publishing the initial article and the responses. Finally, the bias is out from under the rug. Now it can be dealt with. Being different is not synonymous with being an eyesore. A new group of people exists in Lewiston whose language, mode of dress, ethnicity, religion, and cultural cuisine are different to the familiar.This particular group has replaced those who preceded them, such as the French, Italians, Koreans, Chinese, Jews, and so many before them. That the mayor of this city should play on the biases of his citizens is reprehensible. Mayor, it would have been so much better if a committee had been formed to help the new citizens understand their new environs, and to assist them navigate the new culture in which they find themselves. Perhaps, Mr. Mayor, you should seek the input of the fantastic teachers who exist in this community. They will give you a gem of advice – we teach by modeling. When students come to us ‘not knowing’, we do not deride them and cast dispersions on their character. Instead we model the expected behavior, method, or protocol, and we, as teachers. KNOW that it will take a few attempts before they get it ‘right’.
    Anything new needs practice. How many may have taken the driving test two, three, four times before passing?
    The new citizens of this community will, in time, be seen as just another one of our neighbors. In the meanwhile, TOLERANCE needs to be at the forefront of words and actions, and lest we forget,most of the residents in our jails are not immigrants,most home invasions are not committed by our new citizens, most child abuse, spousal abuse, fisticuffs, and other behavior that leaves a negative impact on our community, do not involve the new citizens.
    This group cannot be blamed for all that ails our community. Rudeness existed way before they arrived to our shores. The exuberance demonstrated by our new citizens is due in part, to the realization that miraculously, someone in that family has attained a level of education that seemed impossible. They too, are proud parents, relatives, of some of the graduates. Some call Africa so that the entire family can hear the ceremony, right here and over there. Imagine for a moment, a dozen or two people gathered around a cell phone in Africa, trying to hear what is going on in America, and the tearful and meager celebration that follows. Why did none of the responders give credit to the many new citizens who mastered the English language to the point of being able to graduate? Why did none the responders look around to see that many of the “rude” spectators were BOTH new citizens and those who have been here for generations?
    Economic times are hard. Let’s not use our new citizens as scapegoats, oh, and as an afterthought, the Department of Human Services has existed decades before our new citizens graced this city – I wonder who availed themselves of these service? Hmmmmmmmmm!

    • Chris:

      It’s refreshing to read a reply that isn’t completely bigoted. I’m sure that most respondents have themselves been, or know someone who has benefited from state assistance at some point in their lives. I have a Somalian Registered Nurse who takes very good care of me prior to seeing my Primary care physician and she happens to speak more articulately than many who have come to the comment board to tarnish the Somalian people as a whole. Who is German? You all hate Jews…Who is Black? You all are murderers and drug dealers…Who is Italian? Bunch of no-good Mafiosos…French? Freedom fries is all I’ve got to say. Generalization is so ridiculously naive, people. I can only hope that these types of things don’t come out of your mouths while in front of those you respect. If so, chances are, the respect is not mutual.

  • Scott:

    So glad I left that awful state, the Somolians have completely stunk up the twin cities.

  • david:

    it really just boils down to a lack of respect for your fellow human being. Parking in handicap spots and hanging your little sign from the rear view mirror while the old man in the wheelchair or the veteran amputee has to come from a hundred yards away. Running that red lite with no regard for the minivan with the family in it coming the other way. 50 miles an hour through neighborhoods where kids are playing. It is just incredible how much respect has just dissapeared from the fabric of humanity. Someone said earlier that when they approach the local police they say they can do nothing, more like they don’t want to do anything. Just look at the points made earlier in regards to driving habits. Was once told by a local officer that is a pain in the @#$ to issue speeding tickets, I assume it must be easier to fill out accident reports or maybe even death certificates. It really is just society going to hell in a handbasket. I am told constantly how well behaved and respectful that my kids are and nothing makes myself and my wife prouder to be a parent. I am not sure where all this started but it needs to end.

  • Deneige Pelletier:

    This article is disgusting. As a mayor of a city often called “Little Canada,” you should remember the people that you are representing. Many of us or our loved ones were immigrants in the not too distant past. Your use of the term “immigrant” as a racial slur and your ignorance is astounding. You should be ashamed of yourself. As a former resident of Lewiston, I am ashamed for you.

    • Ben Turner:

      Any educated, properly acculturated human being would find the Mayor’s repeated usage of the term “immigrant” — in the context of his belittling other people beneath his low-brow, middle-class coterie of Lewiston ignoramuses — to be patently racist and offensive. This statement comes from a TRUE conservative.

      Additionally, I should add that there cannot POSSIBLY be this many racist rednecks in Lewiston. I think the proctoring of the e-comments here is rigged by the Twin City Times. One HOPES that it’s rigged because the breadth of open bigotry expressed here is outrageous. If Lewiston is a dump of a town, it is not because of Somalis or any other group of dark-skinned ethnic minorities. It’s because the State is a backwater, neo-Soviet medical oligarchy run by idiot — or downright evil — slobs masquerading as Uncle Good-Guy local politicians. Also, if the graduation was a nightmare of cell phone calls and inattentiveness, you probably have a lousy school administration to blame. Let’s face it: the Mayor and his supporters here are pointing out and blaming Blacks. Get into the 21st century and stop scapegoating racial minorities for problems that the factory-hell, hospital Wasteland of Central Maine has long-since developed on its own.

  • misty:

    I have always been proud of being from Lewiston..but not now..I have always bragged how non racist my city is..and my state..we are good people here..my parents dragged me kicking and screaming from the beautiful city I call home..it was in my teens that we moved to Florida, been all over since..but NOWHERE has ever been home except Maine..I am ashamed. I am sorry that my home has been so poorly represented..obviously some of you feel that the Somalians life prior to US was justified..and you cant say that no one else is rude..the whole article was rude..in the past 5 years, when have you seen a graduation, otherwise? how many kids and parents do you see ignoring the world around them, lost in a phone..and yet because they are immigrants, they should be held to a different standard? You forget that almost all of us are refugees, at one point our ancestors were fleeing such atrocities and persecution..some of them were only looking for a place to be free…I love you Lewiston, you hold my heart..I am only a year away from transfer to Bates, I hope that the biggots have moved on…Thank You Alyce, for standing up..

  • Rachel:

    It is unfortunate that the mayor chose to focus on the negatives of the ceremony. I’ll tell you what I noticed the most at the ceremony, as I sat with my collegues on the sidelines. I saw a class of 200+ students get up on their feet and cheer when the last student to cross the stage, a beloved classmate who was a special education student, danced across the stage to receive his diploma. I later learned it had all been planned. Aparently, the entire thing was pre-arranged by some of his “buddies”, athletes who volunteered in his class. This truly speaks to the culture of the school and the respect the students have for one another, even though they have differences.

    Etiquette involving cell phones is a problem throughout our society. When I worked as a deli clerk at a local supermarket, time and time again, people walked up to the counter, gabbing away on their cell phones, expecting the clerks to be able to read their minds and just get them what they wanted. Several times I moved on to the next customer, consequently making the cell phone-using customer angry. And these customers were not dark-skinned colored imigrants.

    As far as not standing up for the flag, or national anthem-well, that’s just a shame. And not only should our new neighbors be ashamed, but the many American-born citizens should be ashamed as well. How many times have I argued with White students as to why they should at least stand up during the Pledge, even if they choose not to say it? Too many.

    All-in-all, I am proud of our seniors and other students at LHS. I for one choose to focus on the positive things going on in our community and our school.

  • Jeff Morris:

    I am of the opinion that the reason we don’t see respect for our country and our founders values is becouse we don’t expect it and we don’t teach it. When is the last time you were at a public event where they played the star spangled banner and the crowd there was encouraged to sing along and reminded to place their hands over their hearts or salute if prior military or remove their hats in respect. When have you been to something such as a graduation and the announcer stopped the ceremony and reminded the rude crowd to pay attention to the ceremony, gather up their unruly children, turn off their cell phones ect.
    or the ceremony would not continue. Everyone so covets their individuality and basic freedoms they forget any consideration for others. It is all about themselves. We have lost our sense of community to this individualistic attitude. This has seeped into every crack and crevice of our society and really needs to be turned around, for if it does not change, we are surely going to deteriorate into further selfish behavior as was observed at the graduation this year. We so concentrate on our rights that we forget our responsibilities these days. Insist upon adherence to our traditions and common decency in every situation, sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner” or “God Bless America” or any other song espousing to the pride in our country. Respect our flag and insist and remind those who don’t to act appropriately.Teach your children the same. Let the people who don’t act appropriately that they will be held in contempt and humiliate them for they are totaly disrespecting us and our values.Do not be afraid to hurt their feelings for they deserve just that! They have brought negative attention to themselves and should be admonished for it. Teach those who desire to learn more about our values and traditions and praise their accomplishments.

  • Shawn Bazinet:

    Short and sweet…..THANK YOU!
    After being employed since the age of 15 (25 yrs), I have always worked. I am now UNEMPLOYED. Would you suppose the influx of immigrants not only in Maine, but also the U.S., has a major factor of why our country/state has turned to you know what in the last decade??….due from immigrants collecting aid…?

    • Tracey:

      Before thanking him you might want to read his other articles, even though you worked 25 years if you apply for general assistance you are part of the “gimme crowd” according to him.

      If you have a pit-bull, tattoo or body piercing you are a deadbeat, according to him.

      And incase you missed the comment about attire at the graduation, if you had to run directly from work to the graduation and you worked in the mill and didn’t have time to change, you should’ve stayed home, according to him.

      He doesn’t really care about your contributions of the past 25 years, anyone in need or not snuffy enough to fit his grade will be put down and made fun of.

      Some people are hanging on to his few good points but he is insulting many good people and not looking for solutions.

      Why didn’t our Mayor tell those people to quiet down or tell the officers present to stop them? It would’ve been perfectly legal but instead he stood and observed then ran to his paper and complained? He is just as guilty of the graduation disruptions for not doing anything about it. Surely if the Mayor had asked those in charge to hold the show while the disruptive people get in order or get out, they would have hung on.

      • John:

        Hold on Tracy… I lost my job of 30 yrs. I went to college, got a degree, and was off unemployment in 2 yrs. YES OFF…do not see that happening in Lewiston right now…

  • chrissy:

    As usual most people are just here to bash everyone who is not white american. So tired of it

    • Tracey:

      People also don’t realize some of the immigrants paid big money to our government to come here because our government lied about how good it was here.

      If I was them and was told there were plenty of jobs and housing I would’ve come too. Then to spend my last dime to find the jobs and housing were not was I was told and to be put down no matter what I do by the natives?

      I don’t know what I would do. But I do know more insults are only going to make the problem worse.

  • Joe:

    Well, if a city reflects its leadership; it sounds like Lewiston is a divided, judgmental place.

    Seriously, what kind of Mayor would write something like this? Do we really want to believe all our problems come from “immigrants.” Give me a break, I see hate and disrespect from all kinds of people.

    How about focus on yourself. Love and respect people even when it’s undeserved.

  • Christine:

    Unfortunately, my family was getting increasingly upset by all of the disruptive behavior. At times, we missed what was being said and I was appalled by the rude behavior. sadly, this article is true to it’s word. I was there. I’ve never seen anything so disrespectful. The amount of work that went into this ceremony was outstanding, and these students and families don’t get a graduation “do over”. I personally left there upset because of this. I don’t care where you come from or your ethnic orientation., but I don’t condone rude and disrespectful behavior. It was ridiculously loud in that place and many people sitting around us were making the same comments. Hope it tones down when my next child graduates from there. The point is, everyone should be allowed the opportunity to hear the ceremony, from start to finish

  • Tricia:

    I think if more people need to start speaking out and do something about this issue. They should have been asked to leave. Acting disrespectful is uncalled for, and being rude in public places and during a Graduation frustrates a lot of people however, I think some are afraid to speak up and say how they feel.

  • jarred:

    What’s sad is a single mother with 3 kids tries to get assistance and gets denied.. but not a skinny.. they drive up in brand new honda or mini vans.. with we baught. And demands more money.. and gets it. At Wal-Mart last week a guy walked out of there with a shopping cart full of baby formula.. and I meen full. Must of been 75 cans tjere. They are at least 25 dollars a piece… Were being taken advantage of. Let’s take care of our tired hungry and poor first…

  • Disgruntled and annoyed:

    People need to wake and smell the COFFEE… immagrints/white trash equals the same….I have been to jokers in the auburn mall and let me just say immigrants were out in high numbers and were completely disrespectful …not only stunk up the place but my 8 year old wanted to leave after being conned out of his coins and having my purse almost stolen by these…immigrants. they need to learn respect and if they want to live in this country they need to learn our language so we can FUCKING UNDERSTAND THEM. They make this bad sterio type all on there own and they expect little kids to just deal with there disrespect. The parent are as much to blame. SERIOUSLY AMEN TO THE MAYOR WHO IS JUST POINTING OUT THE FACTS THAT WE ALL KNOW IS TRUE!

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