EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Mayor Lantigua

September 12, 2011

Silent Mayor Lantigua gestures, then summons all cruisers to City Hall

LAWRENCE — "Lantigua doesn't care! Lantigua doesn't care!" they chanted.

Some people who walked for peace yesterday wanted to know what Mayor William Lantigua was going to do about city violence. Lantigua didn't participate in the walk, but was standing in the street outside City Hall, with numerous other men, when thousands of walkers arrived there yesterday.

Rafaella Rosado and Domingo Melendez were among those who questioned what Lantigua going to do about the uptick in crime — which has included five murders in two weeks. In response, Lantigua did not speak but repeatedly gestured towards his own feet and the ground in front of him.

Lantigua then asked for every police cruiser "on the order of the mayor" to respond to City Hall.

No arrests were made. Police Sgt. Steve Scheffen parked his cruiser on Common Street and stood by briefly.

In an interview afterwards, Rosado said she felt Lantigua was telling her she could kiss his feet.

"He is very disrespectful. This is not going to stop here," she said. "If he can't do his job he should step down and resign from office."

Melendez is a vocal opponent of Lantigua and recently participated in an unsuccessful campaign to recall Lantigua from office.

Walk organizers and domestic violence advocates worked quickly to calm the crowd yesterday after the brief but tense outburst

"This is a walk for peace," shouted Vilma Lora, co-director of women's services at the YMCA of Greater Lawrence. Lora has worked to combat domestic violence in the city for 18 years, she said.

"This is not about him. This is not about the mayor," added Sandy Almonte, the District A city councilor.

Sasha Capo, 20, a walk organizer, urged the crowd to join her next to City Hall, near the parking area. Capo had stressed the walk was "strictly non-political."

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