Gang of Somali Kids Attack Park Goers in Lewiston

5/24/18, Maine First Media Staff Report,

It was an otherwise pleasant evening in Maine when two dozen Somali youth swarmed and attacked two local residents in Kennedy Park last Thursday evening.

The Somali mob attacked around 7:45 pm, just as the sun was setting on this historic city park in the heart of Maine’s second largest city.

A local mother recorded as a mob of teens and children, boys and girls as young as nine years old, brandishing wooden bats and other objects, along with fists, feet and sheer numbers to attack the two non-Somali defenders. At one point you can even here one of the hoodlums repeatedly daring the woman to, “stop me, b**ch.”

Lewiston Police tell Maine First Media one of the victims was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. However, no charges were filed.

Lewiston Mayor, Shane Bouchard says these types of incidents are common at Kennedy Park, but points to Lewiston’s low crime rate.

“Kennedy Park is a large common space in the middle of some of the poorest census tracts in the Northeast,” Mayor Bouchard said. “When you have large, diverse groups of people in the same place you are bound to have incidents. Lewiston is no different in that respect than any other medium to large city, except that Lewiston’s violent crime rate is one of the lowest in Maine.”

While the Mayor brings up Lewiston’s violent crime statistics, it is important to note, in this case, the victim didn’t press charges, meaning, statistically there was no crime. Incidents like this often go unreported and are not reflected in the numbers — something even Mayor Bouchard has to admit.

“In this particular case, the person who was attacked declined to press charges, therefore under the law, there was no victim, therefore no crime,” said Mayor Bouchard.

Witnesses at the park say the attack started when one of the victims asked one of the attackers to use a lighter for his cigarette. However, Lewiston Police are reviewing the video and have not determined an official motivation for this gang assault.

This is far from the first incident of Somalian attacks at Kennedy Park. Recently, a 10-year-old girl was jumped and beaten by a Somali girl at the park. As such occurrences become more common in Lewiston, many lifelong residents are now afraid to bring their own children to play.

Some residents say police officers tell them the safest thing would be not to bring their kids to the park anymore. However, according to Lewiston Police Department Public Information Officer, Lieutenant David St. Pierre, that is not the department’s stance.

“I am not aware of officers advising parents to refrain from bringing their children to the park,” Lt. St. Pierre said. “We at the Lewiston Police strive to make it a safe and enjoyable environment for all.”

Lt. St. Pierre tells Maine First Media officers make regular passes through the park to provide a police presence whenever possible. Meanwhile, Mayor Bouchard says in light of recent problems, the police department is adding more patrols to the park, and they’re taking another step as well.

Our community resource officers are reaching out to the leaders in our new Mainer community,” Mayor Bouchard said. “While we are fighting a cultural barrier, outreach to these groups has been successful in the past, and we are hopeful we can make some progress.”

While repeatedly stressing this is not just an issue with the Somali community in Lewiston, the Mayor does put at least a portion of the blame on the influx of immigration to the city over the past couple decades.

“While what we are seeing in our inner city right now is partially an issue of 20 years of terrible immigration policy, these issues were happening in Kennedy Park before the new Mainers arrived,” Mayor Bouchard said. “Reversing that long of a span of poorly done immigration is going to take time.”

On any given day, dozens if not hundreds of Somali youth can be found occupying Kennedy Park and the violence is nothing new. Local residents bearing the brunt of these violent mobs are growing frustrated. Maine First Media was told it took police at least 7-8 minutes to arrive on the scene — despite the police station being right across the street from the park.

However, Lt. St. Pierre says they didn’t receive a call until about 8:05 pm and officers were on the scene in 2-3 minutes. And while the station may be across the street, patrolling officers are out making rounds.

“It is important to realize and understand that despite the proximity of the park to the police station, the officers assigned to patrol at any given time are patrolling the rest of the city as well and may not necessarily be at the station,” Lt. St. Pierre said. “This could mean they are near the Lisbon town line, Sabattus town line, Greene town line or currently responding to and/or at other calls for service.”

Attacks like we see in the video happen very quickly. Even with police on the scene a few minutes after the incident is called in, the assault will likely already be over. Hopefully, the newly added patrols will help discourage the violence before it starts.

Furthering frustration, some Lewiston parents say they’ve been told that since many of the offenders are under 18 years of age, there is little officers can do. Lt. St. Pierre says that is not the case.

“Their age; if under 18, certainly presents various factors and hurdles but problems are generally addressed in similar fashion as when we deal with adults,” Lt. St. Pierre said.

Mayor Bouchard placed the blame for these attacks on several factors but believes a big part of the problem is parenting.

“Bigger picture, children are just not taught respect anymore, and that can be said about children in general, our visible population in that area just happens to be an immigrant population.” Mayor Bouchard said.

Maine First Media certainly can’t argue that teaching kids to respect their elders appears to, unfortunately, be a thing of the past. However, the last part of the Mayor’s statement seems to be a political copout. Remember, the Mayor also put part of the blame on the shoulder of 20-Years of bad immigration policy. So, Mr. Mayor, which is it?

Mayor Bouchard is on record supporting efforts to put “new Mainers” to work. One of the places the Mayor personally put a Somali immigrant with a history of hateful remarks and Leftist political activism to work was on the Lewiston Libary Board of Trustees — where she’ll have a say over what books the library houses and what cultural programs the library sponsors.

However, the Mayor did acknowledge two decades of bad immigration policy.  And the Lewiston Police Department is adding more patrols to the troubled Kennedy Park area. Hopefully, these are signs of steps in the right direction in Lewiston.