Posted: January 16, 2003
About 30 members of the anti-Semitic and white supremacist group World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) held a meeting on Jan. 11 at the Army National Guard Armory in Lewiston, Maine, in protest of the recent immigration of 1,100 Somalis to the town.
The group went ahead with the meeting despite the arrest of its leader and planned speaker, Matt Hale, who last week was charged with soliciting the murder of a federal judge in Chicago. Hale was to have spoken on "The Invasion of Maine by Somalis and How We Can End It."
In place of Hale, "Reverend" Jon Fox, the WCOTC Illinois state leader, spoke about the danger of the White race being destroyed by a so-called "national conspiracy" that wants to rule the world. Fox stated that his message is being ignored by the "Jewish-controlled mass media." He added, "We're not into hate. We're into love, but we love our own kind."
Besides Fox, there were two other WCOTC speakers: Robert Freeman of Old Lyme, Conn., and David Stearns of Portland, Maine. Stearns said that the so-called "conspiracy" has become personal for Maine, adding that immigrants are taking away the unskilled jobs that he did as a child. "It's a battle for survival," he said. All three speakers called for Hale's release from prison.
The meeting at the armory was relatively peaceful, with the group leaving from the back of the building into a waiting van. Approximately 200 protestors had assembled outside the armory where the racist meeting took place.
The state assembled a massive police presence, described as the largest law enforcement callout in Maine's history. Only one protestor was arrested for disorderly conduct. "I don't think we could have imagined it would go so well," said Phil Nadeau, the assistant city administrator.
Nearby, over 4,000 people gathered at a counter-rally in the Bates College Merrill Auditorium for two and a half hours, with the rest overflowing outside. The diverse "Many and One Coalition," formed by anti-racist Lewiston residents, was joined by many other groups.
Among the participants in the Bates counter rally were the Minneapolis-based Somali Justice Advocacy Center, and various Maine officials including Gov. John Baldacci, state Attorney General Steven Rowe, and U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Gov. Baldacci said, "We stand united as one in Maine when it comes to neighborliness, when it comes to tolerance, when it comes to opportunity."
Although no new Somalis have arrived in Lewiston since August, the town's mayor, Laurier Raymond, felt that the Somali immigrants had placed a huge burden on the town's assistance programs and schools. On Oct. 1, 2002, he sent an open letter to the Somali community, which asked them to reduce the stress on the town's financial resources. Five days later, a group of Somali elders responded by pointing out the contributions made by the Somalis to the town and accusing the mayor of bigotry.
The WCOTC, along with other white supremacist groups, felt that they could exploit the situation in Lewiston by promoting their racist ideology there. The WCOTC planned the meeting with hopes of galvanizing support among local residents.