A Petition to Affirm and Defend Bangor’s Community Values

Please sign the Petition!

Affirm and Defend Bangor's Community Values

In ordinary times, we have no reason to ask our City Council to declare that we are proud to treat every person in our community with dignity, respect and equal protection. Why belabor the obvious?

But these are not ordinary times. What previously may have sounded like platitudes are now necessary credos, things that need to be said loudly and clearly.

In recent months we have seen rising levels of apprehension on the part of the most vulnerable among us. Their concerns have proved to be justified, most immediately those of immigrants and their families. Deportation raids have not yet taken place within our city limits, but they have occurred across our country. People have well-founded fears of a Muslim registry. Hate crimes are on the increase, including threats and attacks against Muslim and Jewish communities.

In our city we have healthy countercurrents:  The recently formed Maine Multicultural Center, applauded by our city council, celebrates our diversity. The Bangor Police Department’s “Unbiased Policing” policy stipulates that our officers do not inquire about immigration status in the course of routine policing. Our county jail will detain a person for federal authorities only if there is a valid warrant or court order.

Until now, our city officials have not gone out of their way to make plain that our policing policies reflect our community values and accord with the law. There seemed to be no reason to attract attention and invite possible controversy over common-sense law enforcement practices.

That was then. Now it seems trouble may find us, even if we don’t go looking for it.  Recently introduced state legislation  (LD366)  threatens to punish local governments that do not collaborate actively with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The proposed penalty is withholding state funds for our city’s schools, children with special needs, public assistance,  corrections,  roads, and public transportation, among other items. In this way, those who would denigrate vulnerable groups now target local communities who come to their defense.

In response, we offer this statement of unity and inclusion to all members of the Bangor community. If you live, work or spend time in Bangor, consider yourself a member. We invite both individuals and organizations to endorse it. It will be widely accessible through your congregations, organizations or social media networks.

With a compelling number of signatories, we will bring this petition to the Bangor City Council. We will ask the council to affirm the statement as ratification of a demonstrated community consensus that already exists. The petition reads:

Bangor, Maine strives to be an open, welcoming and safe community for all its residents. We wish to value and honor our racial, ethnic and religious diversity. It makes us stronger and better.

The current political climate has become frightening for millions of immigrants and their families. In addition, we recognize that our Islamic friends and neighbors feel threatened by the seeds of anti-Muslim sentiment being sown throughout our country.

In light of these concerns, we call on the Bangor City Council  to formally affirm that here in our city, we are committed to uphold the rights, ensure the safety, and affirm the worth of each of our residents.

We want all to understand that our police department does not routinely inquire into the immigration status of any person(s) encountered during the course of normal law enforcement activity. Our public security, including effective community policing, requires that no one feel intimidated or apprehensive in coming forward with information that aids our officers in keeping us all safe.

We are proud that our public officials strive to treat all of our residents with respect, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, documentation status, sexual identity or gender identity. We know that when any sector of our populace feels vulnerable, the integrity of our entire community is in jeopardy. We celebrate our diversity, our openness to one another, and our commitment to dignity and equal justice for all.

It’s time to stand up, speak out, and sign on.

If you want to do even more to stand up for our values, you can download a printed copy of the petition, gather additional signatures, and return it to the PICA office.