EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Mayor Lantigua

September 13, 2011

Peace walk organizer 'disgusted' by Lantigua's gestures

LAWRENCE — The young woman who organized Sunday's peace walk said she was "disgusted" by Mayor William Lantigua's "challenging" demeanor outside City Hall. However, Sasha Capo said Lantigua's actions underscore a major city problem — a disconnect between local government and the citizens it serves.

"The potential for things to turn ugly was definitely there. ... It's testament to how dire the situation is," said Capo, 20, a Lawrence native who attends Northeastern University.

More than 2,000 people attended Sunday's Walk for Peace, organized following five murders within two weeks in Lawrence. As the walk ended at City Hall, some walkers shouted at a waiting Lantigua, asking him what he was going to do about the uptick in crime. In response to walkers Rafaelli Rosado and Domingo Melendez, Lantigua did not speak, but repeatedly gestured toward his own feet and the ground in front of him which was caught on video by The Eagle-Tribune. Rosado said she believed Lantigua was telling her to kiss his feet. Lantigua did not respond for comment.

State Rep. Marcos Devers (D-Lawrence), who was standing to Lantigua's right in the video, put his arm on the mayor. "I was just trying to calm him down and avoid any interaction," Devers explained yesterday. "I tried to keep everyone safe, quiet and calm."

Capo said she did not witness the incident but watched The Eagle-Tribune's video that captured the interaction between the mayor and Rosado and Melendez.

"He was challenging them," she said of Lantigua.

The crowd was eventually moved to the side of City Hall where the parking lot is located. Holding a microphone, Capo stood above the crowd and asked those who wanted peace to start clapping.

As she continued speaking to the group, Capo said one of the first people she saw was Lantigua, who was now standing at the edge of the parking lot, listening to her.

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