ME: SOMALIS, OTHERS REFLECT ON HIGH-TENSION WEEK IN COMMUNITY RELATIONS
The past week has been tough for the community, Somali and Franco-Americans attending a community dialogue at the Franco American Heritage Center agreed Monday.
"A lot of anger and hate has been flying around," said Steve Wessler of the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence.
In the days after last Thursday's report of a hate incident at Lewiston Middle School involving a ham steak left at a lunch table to insult Somali students, a Sun Journal newspaper forum was so filled with hostility it was shut down.
Wessler said he received hate e-mail and two phone messages in which a man threatened to commit violence against him.
And then last Saturday, Brent Matthews, a Lewiston man who became known for rolling a pig's head into a Somali mosque last July, committed suicide at Marden's parking lot.
"Fear is what guides us," said Edward Boucher, 62. "A lot of us are led by that. It's the beginning to a lot of the problems."
For years, Catholics suffered prejudice before being accepted. That's not uncommon for any new group arriving in a community, several Francos said.
"Eventually these things work themselves out," Boucher said.