Somali Community Receives Support From Mayor in Lewiston, Maine

Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald vows to investigate and prosecute anyone committing harassment in the city

Somali immigrants in Lewiston, Maine say tensions are high since the election of Donald Trump. Some say they've experienced harassment in places like super markets, polling places, and even walking down the street.

According to Abdikadir Negeye form the Maine Immigration and Refugee Services, one woman was nearly run down by an angry driver in downtown Lewiston, who yelled at her for being Somali. Another told him she had a woman yank on her hijab and tell her to go back to her country. Lewiston election officials witnessed a man intimidating Somali voters at a polling place.

Abdul Said, an executive director of a Lewiston nonprofit, said a man was aggressively asking him for personal information at a market over the weekend, saying it was his "right" to know.

"You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow," he said, but is encouraged by the words of his mayor.

"I"m just not going to take this," said Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald.

He is vowing to investigate and prosecute anyone committing harassment in the city.

"I swear I will come down right after you," said Macdonald.

"It's a big surprise," said Said, who said the mayor's strong words give his community hope.

It's the same mayor at the center of protests a few years ago, when Macdonald told a BBC reporter that immigrants should "leave their culture at the door" when they move to the United States.

Several members of the Lewiston immigrant community called for his resignation, but Macdonald says he has a positive relationship with the immigrant community, and hopes it continues.

Macdonald said he can't be sure that the harassment reports are legitimate because the alleged victims did not go to the police. He worries that some are fabricated and politically motivated.

"If it ain't true, knock it off," Macdonald said. "If it is true, go to the police."

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