When Christopher Louras, the Mayor of Rutland, Vermont, decided to let 100 Syrian refugees settle in the area in 2017, the townspeople got together to enact a sweet revenge. This is what it means to stand together as a community.
Mayor Louras defended his decision to allow the Syrian refugees to settle in Rutland, reportedly stating that the town could use some cultural diversity and that the demographics were changing so that Rutland would have trouble recruiting younger workers.
“We need people,” Louras told The New York Times.
However, some people already in Rutland didn’t agree and formed a coalition called Rutland First, advocating for the residents’ rights and feelings and hoping to pressure Louras to reverse his decision.
The coalition was not one of hate. According to an open letter on the group’s Facebook page, “Rutland First DOES NOT condone violence of any kind towards ANYONE.”
The letter added, “We may disagree with the mayor’s actions of bringing refugees to our community for a variety of different reasons, BUT never have we wanted harm to come to any human being.”
The advocacy group has already had some success in its mission, as reportedly seven out of 11 aldermen sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State explaining that the town has received limited resources for allowing the refugees to settle in the area and that “a significant part of our community has also grown anxious about the (federal government’s refugee settlement) program.”
Rutland resident Dr. Timothy Cook was not happy with the program at all, telling The New York Times, “We’re kind of stuck out here, with our level of economic depression, with our level of crime and drug issues. We’re the ones who are gonna have to foot the bill for this.”
Mayor Louras is looking at a tough re-election effort because of his decision. The people of Rutland First in an open letter on Facebook stated: “Our anger isn’t towards the refugees. It is towards the ACTIONS of our elected officials. The way we fight back is by voting. Remember in March who must be voted out!”
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