Mayor Invites Burmese To Meet With Him

By Peter Neumann

Mayor Invites Burmese To Meet With Him

June 18, 2010 Updated Mar 15, 2010 at 5:29 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Mayor Tom Henry chose a late-in-the-day email press release rather than a statement before the press to invite Burmese leaders to meet with him. He responded to a weekend protest by dozens of Burmese who called for a stop to discrimination.

Their protest culminated a week after a sign posted by an employee of a Ricker's laundry told Burmese customers to stay out. The sign appeared and then was removed, followed by a public apology by owner Jay Ricker. An employee had apparently posted the sign because of hygiene problems with some Burmese customers who had urinated and spat inside the business.

Here is the unedited statement:

"Statement of Mayor Tom Henry on Burmese Integration:

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Following recent events, I am inviting leaders from the Burmese community and those who work closely with this growing population to meet with me personally.

I was saddened when I heard about the sign posted at Ricker’s. However, I thank Jay Ricker for quickly addressing the issue and making a very public apology. I am pleased the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission is looking into the matter as well.

I am reminded again that our community conversation about tolerance and understanding must be an ongoing one. Our efforts to make Fort Wayne a great place to live and a real hometown for all residents must never waver. I look forward to a constructive conversation and dialogue during the meeting about how we can create opportunities for immigrants to better integrate into our community and ways to celebrate the culture of some of our newest residents.

Throughout my life and during my 20 years on the Fort Wayne City Council, I have supported and advanced equality and fair treatment for all people. These principles are part of our nation’s great heritage and must always be promoted. To that end, I have worked closely with local organizations and the state to open the Refugee Center in 2008 that serves individuals from all over the world who now reside here.

Our city has a long history of welcoming immigrants. Like many other Americans, my family came to this country looking for new and better opportunities. Whether then or now, we know the challenges to newcomers are many. But for more than two centuries, our community has been enriched by the talents, skills and cultures of those that call Fort Wayne home. Our city is stronger and more vibrant because of its diversity. It is hallmark of our All-America City and something for which we all should be proud."

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