The Lewiston City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance establishing a 10 p.m. curfew in Kennedy Park in an effort to curb violence and ethnic tensions in the city. The council also voted to expand camera surveillance in the city.
Last week Donald Giusti was killed after a brawl that began in the park spilled over onto nearby Knox Street. His cause of death has not been released but police say as many as two dozen teens and pre-teens were involved.
At a council meeting Tuesday night, Lewiston Police Chief Brian O'Malley said his department is working hard to find those responsible, even as rumors and videos circulate on social media speculating about their ethnicities.
"Downtown Lewiston has a large population of Somalis and many others," O'Malley said. "We refer to them as new Mainers. I cannot release who is involved, who my suspects are, based on their ethnic background. I'm not releasing Mr. Guisti's ethnic background."
O'Malley said Lewiston police want to get justice for the Giusti family just as much as people in the community want. But first, they have to do a thorough investigation with the help of state police.
"And once we make an arrest, once that happens, more information will be released to the public," O'Malley said.
Jay Allen, a landlord who owns several apartment buildings in downtown Lewiston, offered his condolences to Giusti's family, but he urged residents not to frame the situation as an immigrant or racial one. Most of his tenants are from Somalia, Angola, the Congo and Djibouti and other African countries, he said, and he's familiar with what goes on downtown.
"If we allow this to turn into the immigrants versus the white people, all hell's gonna break loose," Allen said, "because we don't need that, because it really isn't the case."
Instead, Allen said, it's about people without jobs, without families that care about them and without dreams who are causing trouble. Other residents spoke about feeling unsafe, echoing what Chief O'Malley says is a growing problem.
"We've been having a large problem with juveniles who are unsupervised by their parents," he said. "We've been reaching out to the new Mainer community in regards of trying to get assistance in helping with these unsupervised juveniles."
Residents described seeing kids armed with bb guns shoot random passersby and break the glass out of windows downtown. But they agreed that it's not just a problem for the police or the City Council to solve. They said it will take a community effort.