Original URL: http://www.centralmaine.com/news/stories/021123lewiston.shtml

Supremicist rally Ok'd Effort to oust Lewiston Somalis

Saturday, November 23, 2002
Kennebec Journal-Morning Sentinal

LEWISTON A committee of city officials granted permission Friday for a white supremacist group to hold a rally calling for the expulsion of the city's Somali residents.

The facilities committee, made up of the fire chief, police chief and other city officials, agreed to allow the World Church of the Creator to hold the rally Jan. 11.

The East Peoria, Ill.-based organization had asked officials for permission to gather at the city's multipurpose center to show support for the "expulsion of Somalis" from Maine's second-largest city.

City officials said they had to consider the application equally with other applications to use city facilities, even if they disagreed with the message.

City Administrator Jim Bennett said the group has a constitutional right to have its voice heard, and the city has an obligation to allow the rally.

"Are we happy about it? Of course not," Bennett said.

The council approved the rally, but said it should be held at the Lewiston Armory, a larger venue than the community center. That decision came after hearing of the World Church press release that said hundreds of
people were expected at the event.

The council also said the group will have to sit down with city, police and fire officials to address public safety and security concerns.

The World Church of the Creator is the second hate group to target Lewiston after an open letter from Mayor Larry Raymond to the Somali community drew national attention.

Raymond said the influx of approximately 1,000 Somalis was straining the city's resources and urged Somali residents to discourage relatives and friends from relocating to the city.

Soon afterward, the National Alliance began delivering racist pamphlets to homes in Lewiston-Auburn. The West Virginia-based group also created a Web site designed to recruit members from the area.

The World Church of the Creator says it wants to mobilize Lewiston residents against what it calls the "Somali invasion."


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