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White supremacist group targets Lewiston for recruitment • Saturday November 9, 2002

AP, Nov. 8, 2002

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) An anti-Semitic white supremacist group is citing Lewiston’s growing Somali population in an attempt to recruit new members from the area.

”Did you know that there is a deliberate campaign to corrupt and pollute the Whitest areas of America as quickly as possible?” the National Alliance writes in an open letter on a Web site.

The group claims that a Jewish conspiracy is plotting to make whites a minority in the United States in an effort to gain power and warns that other ”dusky aliens” will be arriving.

The site urges readers to join its cause and provides contact information and fliers for distribution.

The National Alliance has never before paid so much attention to a single situation in New England, according to Andrew Tarsy of the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks the National Alliance.

”This is aggressive,” said Tarsy, the civil rights director for the organization’s New England chapter. ”This is not the normal course. This is a significant outreach attempt.”

According to a report by the Anti-Defamation League, the National Alliance is the most dangerous organized hate group in America. Its members have plotted violent crimes and spread propaganda that has inspired others to carry out murders, bombings and robberies, the report said.

Tarsy said that the National Alliance, based in West Virginia, has chapters around the country but not in Maine.

Two members appeared with anti-Somali signs at a rally last month that was help in support of the new residents. The ”Save Lewiston” Web site appeared in the following weeks.

Members of the group could not immediately be reached.

More than 1,000 Somalis have moved to Lewiston in the last year and a half. Many entered the United States years ago as refugees fleeing civil war and moved to Lewiston from Atlanta and other large cities.

A controversy erupted last month when Mayor Larry Raymond sent a letter to the Somali community, urging them to discourage friends and family from moving to the city. He wrote that the city is ”maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally.”

In the furor that followed, Raymond said he could not believe that people would consider him a racist. He said he was sorry for any misunderstanding, but that he didn’t regret writing the letter.

City Administrator Jim Bennett said the National Alliance is trying to take advantage of the situation.

”National extremist groups on both sides are using Lewiston to further their goals,” Bennett said. ”When you’re in the national spotlight, like Lewiston was, everybody wants a piece.”

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