The Ft. Wayne, IN laundromat sign story continues to be our top story for the past week at RRW. Below are two comments to the story that indicate how heated the issue has become. A couple of years ago (January 2008) I advocated, as did a writer at the News-Sentinel, that Ft. Wayne needed a PUBLIC meeting to discuss the future of the refugee resettlement program in Ft. Wayne. Instead the mayor recently held a closed meeting and a few months back the Asst Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration traveled to Ft. Wayne to see for himself the problems that existed there with the huge refugee population. I doubt any citizen of Ft. Wayne who has problems with refugee resettlement was in that meeting. (more here on Schwartz visit).
By the way, the Maine Center for Prevention of Hate Violence plans to show up in Ft. Wayne one of these days and it too is planning CLOSED MEETINGS.
Here then are two comments we received about the growing controversy. Note in the second comment the local refugee advocates are spreading the Ft. Wayne story far and wide. Although I haven’t seen it published anywhere, the word on the street is that the man who posted the ‘offensive’ sign is a BLACK employee of the now vilified local business man.
This situation in Fort Wayne is on going, and has gotten worse by the day.
The Mayors politically correct statement to the Burmese community that took a week to write before publishing has only fanned the flames of outrage from the majority of Fort Waynes citizens of long harbored, long ignored grievances, struggles, over the large refugee influx crisis of Karen, Mon, Chin, Muslim Karen tribes.
Some say the sign was discriminatory, of course, but it was taken down, a public apology was made. A commenter,’don’t tread on me’ said to wane news,’Rickers went to the Burmese Council and had a sign made about what was acceptable and what was not( in Burmese)…it was ignored. New immigrants[refugees] are guests to this country. When you are a guest you treat your host with respect. Urinating and spitting is not respectful behavior. The Burmese council now needs to apologize to the community. Was Ricker’s right in putting the sign up no, but catholic charities, the federal government, and the Burmese council have an obligation to educate these folks. We as community are insulted by the behavior of, hopefully a small group. Now the Burmese[refugees] need to step up to plate and acknowledge the lack communication with those in their community.’
Some are saying to the refugees, o.k.,have your Burmese leaders sue us, but we will in turn, arrest you for not only spitting in public places, urinating in public, but also smearing feces in public.
Why haven’t the same rules been applied to refugees as to Fort Wayne American citizens? Because they have been told to practice tolerance, compassion, patience for a beleaguered people, and are hit on all sides by Catholic Charities, World Relief, Lutheran Services, all the other hundreds of ECBOs in town , and now by their own mayor. Even the Allen Co. Health Dept. got in on the act and submitted a comment to ‘give help’ to all the TB, Hep A B C D infected refugees, even after it has been publicly acknowledged these refugees are peeing, spitting, smearing poop in public places.
Where is World Relief? They have a site here in Fort Wayne, the first in Indiana. They located here specifically for the Burmese refugees, and the on going influx crisis. There has not been one iota mentioned about this resettlement agency recently, by anyone. Come on, they are here to prevent issues such as this one from occurring. Or are they a ghost agency. They opened a site here, hired Burmese to handle Burmese refugee problems with American citizens as well as between each other, as refugees, or as American Burmese.
By the way, just this past Tuesday I attended the “celebration” of the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Resettlement Act and a Burmese activist told the audience that enough is not being done to teach Burmese how to live in the US—to understand our culture and her criticism was clearly directed toward the federal contractors whose job it is to resettle refugees in your towns and cities.
Christine Marshal, the current consultant of the Multicultural Council of Fort Wayne that is funded by the Knight Foundation, and supported by United Way, took it upon herself to post the controversial sign on Facebook, perhaps knowing, or maybe not knowing what a tsunami it would create.
This is what she said recently;
‘There are many organizations that are helping to educate the refugees – all of them, not just the Burmese. It’s a huge effort. We just don’t advertise what we’re doing because 1) doing the work is the right thing to do, and 2) we’re putting in so many hours that we don’t have time to sing our own praises. What we do need is for the community to be aware that our government brought these people here, we must help them assimilate, and we must be patient in the meantime. I challenge anyone to go to a Mon Day celebration, or a Karen wrist-tying ceremony, or a Burmese cultural day or any of the other cultures, and not realize what wonderful gifts they have brought to our community. Their culture, art, music, and customs are unique and add color to our world. Yes, more needs to be done. But obviously, right now, the community needs to address this unfortunate incident – learn from it, and make sure it never happens again – to anyone.’
March 9 at 5:06am
This blatant posting to the international community of a sign ignorantly put up by a fed-up employee, not the owner of the business, has only made a decisive fracture between the refugees, the American Burmese in the community whom are whooping up the rally cry to take off the head, literally, of a prominant, well known, philantropical business owner who employs hundreds; and the regular citizens of Fort Wayne.
The mayor invited a meet-up with the Burmese, the Burmese advocates of ECBOs, NGOs, CC, but the public was not invited.
Is this the way to resolve the long on-going issues between the Burmese, refugees, and the regular homegrown citizens of Fort Wayne? No!
Marshal,the mayor, and others have obviously lost the will, interest, or initiative to embrace the rest of the regular struggling, homegrown community, and share of their frustrations of being ignored on refugee issues in extremely critical times. Maybe it is because the regular homegrown Americans costumes, art, music, culture, needs, are just not as exotic, colorful, novel or challenging, enough, as the refugees, according to Marshal.
The citizens of Ft. Wayne should be demanding a public meeting. Bring all the so-called “stake-holders” into one auditorium and have them explain the whole program to the public and let the citizens of Ft. Wayne ask all the questions they wish. This all needs a good airing! Citizens of Ft. Wayne, do not be intimidated by those who will call you names for demanding you have a say in the future of your city.
No public meeting, then maybe it’s time for a new mayor?
Meanwhile Catholic Charities is going to now overload Indianapolis, here. Maybe someone should alert citizens of Indianapolis about the issues on-going in Ft. Wayne!