El Cajon Mayor Apologizes For Remarks About Chaldean Community
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The mayor of El Cajon on Thursday issued an apology for recent comments he made in The Progessive magazine regarding the Chaldean community.
Mayor Mark Lewis' apology came two days after a group of Chaldeans and El Cajon residents rallied during a city council meeting and expressed outrage over the mayor's remarks.
In the article, Lewis was quoted as saying: Some Chaldean schoolchildren who receive free lunches are “being picked up by Mercedes Benzes. First time, they come over here, it doesn’t take them too long to learn where all the freebies are at.”
Lewis released the following statement:
Several citizens expressed concerns at our most recent City Council meeting about remarks I made a number of months ago during an interview, believing that my remarks could be construed as being anti-Chaldean in nature or were in some manner insensitive to certain members of our community. I believe my remarks have been taken out of context. I want to be clear that it was never my intention to cast aspersions upon either our Chaldean community or any other minority community in EI Cajon. I was simply expressing my opinion that I believe that the limited social services made available to our residents in El Cajon should go to those most in need of them, including those within the Chaldean community.
If anyone within our community felt hurt by my comments, I apologize. Again, it was not my intention to harm anyone with my remarks. As Mayor of this great City, I am extraordinarily proud of all of our citizens and especially those within the Chaldean and other immigrant communities who have made the brave choice to leave the difficult circumstances within their homeland and come to America. They represent an important and respected part of the EI Cajon community and we will continue to welcome them as we alwavs have.
Protesters at Tuesday's council meeting also claimed minorities are excluded from city politics and that El Cajon council members, four Caucasian males, are also guilty of racism because of their inaction.
El Cajon is one of the most diverse communities in the county with nearly 50 percent of its population made up of minorities, including 10,000 newly arrived Chaldean refugees from Iraq.