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Op-ed: Lawrence Massachusetts, a city profoundly divided by perceptions

By José Alfonso García

The negativity and prejudice against the Hispanic community in the media has created two different cities of Lawrence.

Speaking of division in Lawrence a few years ago, would have brought to mind the Merrimack River that physically divides the city in North Lawrence and South Lawrence.

Immediately after Mayor Lantigua took office in January 2010, opposition groups, instead of trying to work together with the new administration that received the city in serious financial crisis; with a 25.5 Million dollar budget deficit, started a crusade to oust mayor Lantigua from the public office that the people of Lawrence gave him in a clean and democratic election process for a four-year period.

With this purpose, they started using a very powerful weapon to bring him down: The media.

Through the media, written, electronic and the Internet, they put in place a vigorous negative campaign to discredit and denigrate not only the Hispanic Mayor, but the entire City of Lawrence. Unfortunately for them, it looks like putting this dirty negative campaign against Lawrence in the media was a terrible mistake.

This cruel, merciless and unjust bombardment of negativity mainly against the Hispanic community and sponsor by those groups opposed to the first administration led by a Hispanic mayor in the New England region, has strongly united the residents behind our mayor. This negativity has made our city of Lawrence, two different cities diametrically opposed to each other, at least in the perception of the reality and the methods and purpose of government to move this city forward.

The first of the two cities, we will name it Lawrence A. This city has been called with disdain and disrespect the “City of the Damned” or “godforsaken city in the U.S.” This city of Lawrence is like a damn jungle inhabited by wild mammals, idiots and illiterates of Dominican and Puerto Rican background, who have invaded this land arbitrarily to live on charity.

This hell on earth, where no law and order exist, is like a desolate war zone where evil and crime prevail. This fictitious and vulgar Lawrence is a city plagued by corruption, lawlessness and deception — This is a City of Lawrence very different from the city where we are raising our children.

In this unique place called Lawrence, former residents who left their homeland, they once loved, now they are clamoring for a state takeover of the city government and asking for immediate deployment of the National Guard to pacify us because they are not in power any more.

The other city, we’ll call it Lawrence B. This is a real city with great pride. The one we have named “The Great City of Lawrence.” This is a city of hopes and dreams; a city of immigrants hungry for a better future. A Lawrence populated mostly by men and women representing honest and hardworking people from the entire community with great respect for the historical reasons that led to the founding of The Great City of Lawrence in 1845.

Men and women who are parents of humble families committed to the goal of achieving the American dream, even if they have to work two or even three jobs to pay the rent and provide a decent standard of living for their families.

Lawrence B, the real one, is a city in which our families can walk the streets freely, safely; happily, without fear of being killed at any time by an imaginary sniper aiming an AK-47 at them. (That’s the impression that those affected by the negativity seem to have).

Fortunately, this horrible and dark City of Lawrence described as Lawrence A, the city of the damned, only exists deep inside the rotten and perverse minds of some people who, though living in neighboring cities and towns, remain tied to the economic interests in our city.

These voluntarily displaced citizens (nobody forced them to flee to other cities) appear seriously ill by feeding their spirits with the infamous content of racial bias in news reports exaggerated by The Eagle-Tribune, Boston Magazine or a bunch of cowards and irresponsible bloggers living like rats hiding behind pseudonyms spread on the Internet trying to tarnish the reputation of honest and hardworking people of this city.

These renegade groups, sponsoring this rampant negativity against the city and its administration, refuse to accept that Lawrence has changed. They refuse to understand that the Hispanic community, whom they seem to hate, is here to stay and now accounts for 73.8% of the total population of Lawrence.

They still refuse to accept the bitter reality: Over 24,000 people in the Latino community are registered voters with the ability, the right and the desire to govern ourselves.


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