Portland rally draws hundreds to rebuke Trump

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PORTLAND — After 20 years in Maine, Mahmoud Hassan has wearied of suspicions cast against Somali immigrants.

“It feels weird, it feels ridiculous, but then again, I am not surprised,” Hassan said Aug. 5 about comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggesting Somalis are a threat to public safety.

As president of the Somali Community Center of Maine, Hassan called for a public response to Trump’s words that grew into an Aug. 5 City Hall rally attended by more than 300 people.

“I don’t think there is a misunderstanding,” Hassan said of Trump. “I think there is political opportunism.”

Following his comments at an Aug. 4 Merrill Auditorium rally about threats posed by immigrants domestically and globally, Trump turned his attention to Maine.

“We’ve just seen many, many crimes, getting worse all the time. And as Maine knows, (this is) a major destination for Somali refugees. Am I right?” he asked a crowd that frequently responded with chants of “build a wall.”

“We admit hundreds of thousands into Maine and other places in the United States, hundreds of thousands of refugees, and they are coming from among the most dangerous countries and territories anywhere in the world, a practice which has to stop,” Trump said.

The next day, as more than 200 people lined the City Hall steps behind him, some waving copies of the Constitution, Hassan left most of the talking to Somalis who have assimilated in Maine and had little use for insinuations made the day before.

“Shame on you, you are running for the highest office in the land and spreading hate,” Deering High School Assistant Principal Abdullahi Ahmed said.

Ahmed was also upset Trump’s comments were not rebutted by Gov. Paul LePage, who introduced Trump with an eight-minute speech at the Aug. 4 rally.

“I want him to say Donald Trump lied about the Somali community in Maine,” Ahmed said.

South Portland resident Deqa Dhalac was also distressed by LePage’s silence and reaffirmed Somalis are a part of Maine’s fabric.

“We care about our community, and we are here to stay,” she said. “(Trump) likes to smear for political gain.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who on Monday announced she would not vote for the GOP presidential candidate, spoke against Trump’s words in a statement read by Lewiston resident Abdifatah Ahmed.

“Mr. Trump’s statements disparaging immigrants who have come to this country legally are particularly unhelpful,” Collins said. “Maine has developed a reputation as being a state that is welcoming to people from around the globe. That is a reputation I am proud of and hope will continue in the future.”

Abdifatah Ahmed then added his own thoughts, calling Trump “very ignorant. I love Maine, I have five children born in Portland.”

Kathy Mockler, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities of Maine, which provides refugee resettlement services, said the agency would not comment on statements made in political campaigns.

The agency has resettled an estimated 9,000 people since 1975, and provided support services to about 20,000 other immigrants. In all, refugees and immigrants from about 30 nations have been served.

According to the agency website, since 2010, intakes of refugees, including those who have moved to Maine from another domestic location as secondary refugees, have ranged from about 400-600 annually. Last year, Catholic Charities handled 590 intakes.

Somali immigrants are the most common of the new Mainers, with more than 1,500 served in the last six years. In 2015, Catholic Charities worked with 442 newly arrived refugees. Of those, 192 arrived from Somalia and 215 from Iraq.

Mayor Ethan Strimling said Trump’s ignorance of the Constitution showed when he spoke, and the mayor embraced those who were offended by the candidate’s remarks.

“You are welcomed and cherished here. We need you here, so thank you for being here,” he said.

School Superintendent Xavier Botana also praised the Somali community in an Aug. 5 press release.

“Our diverse students are one of our many assets. We are a better school system because of our diversity,” Botana said. “Our Somali students and their families are a shining example of this strength. As our largest and one of our oldest language communities, we have seen tremendous success stories in our classrooms, academic activities and athletic venues.”

Abdullahi Ahmed said the community’s message will be heard again in November, at the ballot box.

“We will stay here, and we will vote,” he said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling applauds, left, as Abdifatah Ahmed holds a copy of the U.S. Constitution after speaking at a rally Aug. 5 outside Portland City Hall in response to Aug. 4 comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump about Somalis in Maine.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.
  • representativelawrenceelock

    Isn’t that special that Lewiston resident Abdifatah Ahmed has fathered 5 children born in Portland. How many Maine people can afford to have 5 kids anymore? Where does Mr. Ahmed work?
    How about some reporting on the fertility rates of the resettled Muslim refugees.

    • JHinck

      You, Mr. Representative, are way out of line. Who are you to question “the fertility rates” of people of certain national origins or religion? Where are you taking this line of inquiry? You need to assess why you are driven to foster hate and work to get that urge under control.

      • representativelawrenceelock

        Hey, Jon, for a guy with lots of blood on your hands, perhaps you should just shut up, or at least save your sanctimonious lectures for someone else.

        Portland’s unique status as Maine’s only harboring haven for illegal immigrants means the city is an ISIS incubator, thanks to a city ordinance adopted in 2003. When you gonna move to repeal it, Mr. Councilor?

        After the brutal murder of Freddy Akoa one year ago by African immigrants – and we don’t know if they’re in the country legally because Portland cops aren’t allowed to ask — don’t you think it’s time to re-assess your open-borders policy?

        And do you want to discuss the Somali Muslim from Lewiston who turned up dead on the battlefield in Syria? Imagine that, an ISIS fighter right out of Lewiston.

        • JHinck

          Here is a real life story about a man who was the first U.S. postmaster of Asian ancestry on Kauai, Hawaii. After Pearl Harbor, solely because he was of Japanese descent, this American man was picked up and incarcerated in a series of internment camps. His wife and young son, left behind and shamed, struggled to survive living on poverty’s edge. After the war, the former postmaster, a broken man, failed in his efforts too reunite with his family. He ended up on the streets of San Francisco and died young. As far as I can tell, you would repeat shameful policies like forced relocation and incarceration in camps. You hint darkly at controlling people’s fertility. Why don’t you explain just how far you would go based on the fear generated against a whole population based on a few incidents.

          • woodswalking1

            A Non sequitur can not replace logic. Nice try. Let’s get together and tell stories and have candlelight vigils —–That will surely solve the problem. 🙂

          • Pinetree North

            Maybe Strimling can partner up with Hinck and have one of those really productive public speeches on the street. Those always do so much good.

          • representativelawrenceelock

            How ironic that you would change the subject to FDR’s progressive policy of internment, following other left-wing progressive Democrats who pushed racist genocidal public policy.

            I can understand why you want to change the subject, since Portland’s status as a harboring haven for illegal immigrants is indefensible.

            Why is there so little curiosity among progressives and the liberal media about the motives for the Freddy Akoa murder in Portland? Just Google “Freddy Akoa murder” and watch what pops up.

            And of course you don’t want to address the Somali Muslim from Lewiston who died on the battlefield in Syria, do you?

            You can do better, Jon. 

            Man up.

          • JHinck

            You cite two incidents. True, I have not been investigating a murder in Portland or a battlefield death. I admit it. Now tell us what policies do you want to see adopted here? And what do you propose to do about the fertility of the people of certain national origins or religions?

          • Pinetree North

            Easy answer – limit welfare reimbursement to two children per family unit. If they want to have ten or fifteen or twenty children, they can pay the bills themselves. Just like everyone else has to do that doesn’t get welfare benefits.

          • representativelawrenceelock

            oops, JHinck, another dead ISIS fighter from Maine in the news, this time from Freeport….

          • JHinck

            Yes. Admitted to the USA in 2008, therefore, by George W. Bush — a president you supported. Oops.

          • representativelawrenceelock

            Dubya was an open-borders guy, I opposed his amnesty position in 2007, still do……so you’re ready to repeal Portland’s harboring-haven ordinance passed in 2003? What possible justification is there for harboring illegals and giving them welfare? Your city is an ISIS incubator, Jon. Blood will be on your hands when the next Freddy Akoa is beaten to death.

          • JHinck

            It seems that every challenge our state and country faces gives and opening to an opportunist to use fear and overheated rhetoric to heighten tensions and antagonism between people and maybe even encourage hatred and violence. You have chosen to take the easy way and be that opportunist.

          • representativelawrenceelock

            So you think Portland’s harboring-haven ordinance is good public policy? A simple yes or no is sufficient. Perhaps you should ask the Akoa family what they think.

            Your refusal to address this, instead resorting to ad hominem attacks, is evidence of your cowardice. And the fact that majority Democrats unanimously killed LD 1652 without debate or public hearings is evidence of their collective cowardice.

          • JHinck

            Let’s be clear. I think your divisive approach to this subject is wrong and not helpful. Do not put words in my mouth.i am open to all potentially workable responses to public policy outcomes. I do not agree with demonizing groups of people. I wish you would adopt a different approach but I am not hopeful that you will.

          • representativelawrenceelock

            Yes, Jon, let’s be clear, very clear. In a comment above, you falsely accused me of encouraging violence. And you want to lecture me about being “divisive”?

            So let me put some words in your mouth, since you can’t seem to muster the courage to speak your mind:

            You support Portland’s city ordinance, adopted in 2003, that makes Maine’s largest city a harboring haven for illegal immigrants. Under the terms of the ordinance, Portland police are not allowed to inquire about ANYONE’S immigration status. If you were opposed to the ordinance, you would have moved to rescind it. Fair enough?

            Given that the FBI reports active ISIS investigations in all 50 states, my educated guess is that Portland is the most likely locale for the Islamic supremacists to settle down and network, since they know the cops can’t hassle them there. And since the city offers welfare benefits to non-citizens, Portland is a twofer for the jihadists: immunity from law enforcement inquiries about their immigration status, and freebies paid for by Maine taxpayers.

            It’s a perfect storm, Jon. That’s why I’m warning you that the blood will be on your hands when the next Freddy Akoa is beaten to death.

          • JHinck

            This is all speculation. Your imagination is creating dens of “Islamic supremacists” in Portland. Portland is the largest city it Maine. It is more diverse than just about everywhere else in Maine. So, yes, some people here could be under investigation. It really is not that scary here. I walk all the streets of the city without fear. I am sure you could do it. to. I could even introduce you to some Muslims.

          • representativelawrenceelock

            Great….perhaps you could introduce me to the guy who’s going to take your seat on the City Council.

            Still no comment on the harboring-haven ordinance? I’m not surprised.

          • James Mosher

            Mr. Hinck,

            I have commuted to Portland and Lewiston recently. The demography has changed drastically.

            I spoke to the manager of a restaurant in Lewiston about the transformation this week and he informed me that there are places that he refuses to go (like Kennedy Park).

            Perhaps you and I can meet for lunch in the park and discuss all the assaults, robberies, and other criminal activity that is taking place there.

            Oh and by the way, at the risk of being labeled a “xenophobe”, I couldn’t help but notice quite a few hijabs and burkas (for Maine) as I was driving through.

            Is it o.k. to denote the contrast between the cultural dress of “our guests” and that of a typical Maine woman walking in the city?

            Is it abuse to make my wife wear excessive covering on a hot summer day?

            If I told my wife to speak only when I address her, walk behind me several feet, and always wear fabric that thoroughly covers (even on 80 plus degree weather like we have been experiencing), she would tell me to piss off, and somebody would report me for domestic violence.

            What happened to “see something say something”?

            Where is the “purple ribbon, love shouldn’t hurt” crowd on this one?

            Maybe we can discuss (at the aforementioned restaurant) how this is a “cultural thing” that should be assimilated for the Muslim, but not for the rest of us.
            I am a constituent that exhorted legislators like Sara Gideon, Ben Chipman, Mark Eves, and Jeff McCabe to address LD 1652.
            Gideon labeled LD 1652 “a blatantly racist Trump-like maneuver”.
            You heard that right!
            Constituents like me who are actually paying the price for the malfeasance are labeled “racists” for desiring compliance with Federal Immigration Standards.
            Where are you and Sara when it comes to the rights of Muslim women? Do they deserve to suffer on these hot summer days?
            Perhaps the manager will be willing to join our discussion.
            I’m game if you are.

            I’ll even pay for it. I know you progressives like it when others foot the bill.

          • James Mosher

            Mr. Hinck,

            I have commuted to Portland and Lewiston recently. The demography has changed drastically.

            I spoke to the manager of a restaurant in Lewiston this week about the transformation. He informed me that there are places he refuses to go (like Kennedy Park).

            Perhaps you and I can meet for lunch in the park and discuss all the assaults, robberies, and other criminal activity that is taking place there.

            Oh and by the way, at the risk of being labeled a “xenophobe”, I couldn’t help but notice quite a few hijabs and burkas (for Maine anyway) as I was driving through.

            Is it acceptable (in the name of “social justice”) to denote the contrast between the cultural dress of “our guests” and that of typical Maine women walking in the city?

            Is it abuse to make my wife wear excessive covering on a hot summer day?

            My wife would tell me to “piss off” if I told her to speak only when I address her, walk behind me several feet, and always wear fabric that thoroughly covers (even on 80 plus degree weather like we have been experiencing).

            Isn’t this descriptive of the essence of “domestic violence”? I mean we are talking about men controlling women here.

            What happened to “see something say something”?

            Where is the “purple ribbon, love shouldn’t hurt” crowd on this one?

            Maybe we can discuss (at the aforementioned restaurant) how this is a “cultural thing” that should be assimilated for the Muslim, but not for the rest of us.

            I am a constituent who exhorted legislators like Sara Gideon, Ben Chipman, Mark Eves, and Jeff McCabe to address LD 1652.

            Gideon labeled LD 1652 “a blatantly racist Trump-like maneuver”.

            You heard that right!

            Constituents (like me) who are actually paying the price for the malfeasance (of progressive legislators like you) are labeled “racists” for desiring compliance with Federal Immigration Standards.

            Can you tell me how this works?

            Where are you and Sara when it comes to the rights of Muslim women?

            Do they deserve to suffer on these hot summer days?

            It appears as if your French counterparts are more sympathetic than you:

            http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/08/france_addresses_muslim_women.html

            I concur with Mr. Lockman. You are complicit with the progressive policies that are wrecking Maine and therefore an abuser.

            Perhaps the manager will be willing to join our discussion.

            I’m game if you are. It will be fun.

            I’ll even pay for it. I know you progressives like it when others foot the bill.

          • representativelawrenceelock
        • Pinetree North

          Now watch as the leftie shifts the conversation to ancient history, because he can’t defend the points you’re making.

          As for the Akoa murder, isn’t it interesting how the mainstream media has buried the story? No updates on the trials, or the African immigrants accused of the brutal torture slaying of one of their own. I guess Portland is trying to pretend that just never happened.

      • James Mosher

        Mr. Hinck,

        I am a property owner who has been paying his “fair” share for years. Given that the productive members are on the hook for the refugee resettlement/sustainment, I think that Mr. Lockman’s line of reasoning is valid.

        For once I would like to see progressives like you check your “privilege”. You do not have a right to what is in my wallet.
        Why do you hate the productive class so much? What about the rights of my children to a viable future?

        Your “compassion” is merely coercion. You scream to the public that you care and then you make people like me pay for it.
        I am tired of being lectured by “bleeding hearts” like yourself.

        He who pays decides (i.e, constituents like myself who contribute to the welfare programs that legislators like yourself are so quick to espouse). We are entitled to know where our money is going.

        Portland and other municipalities across Maine are becoming third world hellholes because of men like you.

        This is not progress sir. It is thievery. It is a dystopian nightmare that you and your ilk have facilitated. And you pride yourself on being an environmentalist.

        Do you remember studying the works of Milton Friedman during your Harvard days?
        Milton Friedman was great at simplifying economics for the “commoner”.
        “Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else’s resources as carefully as he uses his own.”

        As a constituent and a taxpayer, I am holding legislators like you responsible for the “transfer station” you are turning us into. It is time to wake up sir. Quit spending our money on programs that are assisting Islamists to “radicalize”.
        I do not want my tax dollars spent on jihad.
        The Islamists are promising to breed us out of existence. It is called “civilization jihad” Mr. Hinck. Google it!
        The Islamists are enabled at the expense of Maine property owners because of progressives like you, Jeff McCabe, Mark Eves, Sara Gideon, Ben Chipman, et al.
        Lockman is on to your chicanery. Shame on you!

    • Chew H Bird

      From the same Representative that is anti-gay, anti-refugee, and plain old uninformed about the humanity of humankind… BTW: How did the not paying income tax thing work out for you???

    • Pinetree North

      Five kids? That’s nothing for some of the Maine immigrant population. A couple years ago when Lewiston was hit with arson, the city was scrambling to find housing for families with ten and more kids. One of the families had SEVENTEEN kids, and they were all living on welfare. It’s not easy finding Section 8 housing that can handle that many occupants, so the city was forced to look elsewhere in Maine to rehouse some of the families. And the families keep right on having more children, one a year, for as long as possible. And we get stuck paying all their bills.

  • Letthemeatcake

    Any person who calls themselves a feminist should be concerned about FGM. This is a brutally misogynistic practice. Young girls should be protected. Accepting atrocities that are antithetical to human rights is not tolerance, it’s criminal and anyone who looks the other way is complicit.

    • Pinetree North

      The way women and girls are treated under that religion’s dictates (for anything other than the most moderate sects) is beyond horrendous. They are born into abject oppression, and it only gets worse the older they get. Oppressive clothing, FGM, forced marriages, harsh penalties for the smallest offenses. Nobody who calls themselves a feminist should be supportive of these practices.

  • Charles Martel

    Still thinking of voting for Hillary? See the one hour documentary “Clinton Cash”.

  • Charles Martel

    Why doesn’t the local press EVER get the other side of the story? Why don’t they ask the members of Freddy Akoa’s family what they think of Somali immigrants?

  • EABeem

    There are some really nasty people in this state and they are not immigrants.

    • Jimmy_John67

      Take yourself for example. A Maine native and as nasty as they come. A good example of this is your habit of screaming at and berating youth sports volunteers. Doesn’t get much more nasty then that.

  • Joe Roberts

    I don’t need some Somali holding up a U.S. Constitution. The President has the authority under Per 8 USC §1182 to restrict ANY race of immigrants at ANY time! Period. Next paragraph. So put the Constitution down! Also – how many of you Somalis in Maine were in Somalia when our helo pilots and soldiers were being drug through the streets in your country? And how many of you cheered when you witnessed or heard about it? Yeah. I thought so. Crickets. You who were there thought it was oh so awful, right? Yeah, right. And how many of you cheered when the towers came down? Same crickets. Oh, while we can see the photo above: how many of you tool white people from upper middle class suburbs would vote for public housing on your street that would lower your property value? None. Thought so. Just like in Cape Elizabeth. Hey Somalis: If it came down to it they’d vote their pocket book over you. Just FYI when you shake their hands for standing with you for the photo op. So vote Hillary…..you’ll feel better but she still will not care about you until the next election.