California mayor issues apology for racist comments and resigns

By David Ferguson
Friday, October 25, 2013 13:21 EDT
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Mayor Mark Lewis El Cajon CA via screencap
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The mayor of El Cajon, CA has issued a public apology for offensive remarks about the Chaldean community in his area and has resigned his post. According to San Diego’s ABC Channel 10 News, Lewis is stepping down due to a “health reason” after records of a series of offensive racist remarks he made were released to the public.

Lewis tendered his letter of resignation Thursday night. On Wednesday, Raw Story reported that the mayor — who has held his office since 1998 — had made highly offensive comments about not only Chaldean immigrants from Iraq, but about Mexican-Americans, “black Africans” and women.

In addition to complaining about Chaldean children getting free lunches in school while their parents drive “Mercedes Benzes” and saying, “it doesn’t take them too long to learn where all the freebies are at” when they arrive in the U.S., Lewis said that Chaldeans from Iraq are moving to his area and getting involved in crime.

In previously unpublished audio from an interview with Arun Gupta of The Progressive magazine, Lewis said, “There’s lots of prostitutes in regards to the Middle Eastern community” and that “(t)he Mexican community feels intimidated, in regards to Chaldeans trying to get into their turf, in regards to selling drugs. Same as the Black Africans, Black Americans.”

Lewis posted an apology on the El Cajon city website before resigning. It read, in part:

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 always have.

He said, however, that he stands by his remarks. It was not clear at press time exactly when Lewis’ resignation would take effect.

Watch video about this story, embedded below via San Diego’s ABC Channel 10:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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