Synopsis by Mark Deming
In the wake of ongoing political instability in their homeland, a large number of Somalis began relocating to the United States, and 2002 a group of 1,100 former Somalis settled in the small New England town of Lewiston, MA; however, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many in Lewiston were distrustful of their new Muslim neighbors, and this unease was intensified by the fact a United States serviceman from a nearby town had lost his life in Somalia in an ugly incident that was recreated in the movie Black Hawk Down. In October 2002, simmering tensions reached the boiling point when Lewiston mayor Larry Raymond published an open letter in which he stated that Lewiston's city services were being stretched to the breaking point, and as a consequence, no more Somalis should move into the town. A number of acts of violence against the new Somali visitors followed, and in 2003, a group of white supremacists led by the neo-Nazi sect the World Church of the Creator announced their intention to stage a massive rally in Lewiston in which they would demand the Somalis leave the community. In response, some of the people of Lewiston began organizing an alternative rally to show their support for their new neighbors. The Letter: An American Town and the "Somali Invasion" is a documentary which examines the ethnic divide in Lewiston, as well as the twin rallies which illustrated both sides of the controversy.
controversy, diversity, ethnic-groups, hate-group, letter, mayor, peace-rally, racism, refugee, resettlement, Somalia, white-supremacy