PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Dozens of people gathered on the steps of Portland City Hall Friday afternoon to condemn Donald Trump's comments during his rally Thursday that juxtaposed refugees with terrorists.
"They're coming from some of the most dangerous territories and countries in the world, and this is a practice that has to stop," Trump said of Somali refugees.
Many of Maine's Somali community attended the demonstration, organized by Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling.
"There is no room for hate in Maine," said Deering High School's assistant principal Abdullahi Ahmed. "Coming from a troubled place does not mean we are criminals. We are not."
Ahmed also challenged Governor Paul LePage to publicly rebuke Donald Trump, who also said that crime in the state has increased because of Somali refugees.
"The Governor was courageous enough yesterday to say Hillary Clinton was corrupt. So I want him to say that Donald Trump lied about the Somali community in Maine."
People held signs and pocket Constitutions.
"The Constitution of the United States protects all of us," said one speaker at the demonstration.
Lewiston has Maine's highest concentration of Somali refugees, according to Muhidin Libah, who said about 5000 of the state's 7000 Somali refugees live in the Lewiston-Auburn area. Libah is the director of Somali Bantu, an organization that helps legal immigrants adapt to life in American, such as find jobs, and learn to pay bills.
"It's somebody telling the people, 'choose death,'" said Libah about Trump's comments. "People are coming to your home and telling you get out of here, or you die. You don't have the time to gather supplies for your travel, you just go. We left our elderly people on the way. We just leave them for the hyenas and the lions to eat them, so that is what we've been through. People are running away from death and it is you telling them don't come here. Choose death and die there."
Ahmed called Trump's comments divisive and unfounded, adding a message about the upcoming election.
"We are part of this community. We will stay here, and in November we will vote," said Ahmed.
Strimling praised the strength of the Somali community, and condemned Donald Trump.
"You are welcome here. You are cherished here, but more than you are welcome and cherished, we need you here, so thank you for being here," said Mayor Strimling."The values of bigotry are not the values of Portland. The values of xenophobia are not the values of Portland. The values of Portland. The values of hate are not the values of Portland."
Senator Susan Collins released a statement on Trump's comments:
As we debate proposed reforms to our country's immigration system, Mr. Trump's statements disparaging immigrants who have come to this country legally are particularly unhelpful. Over Maine's nearly 200 year history, our state has benefitted greatly from immigrants from all over the world. In addition to our well-known Franco heritage, Maine has benefited from people from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and, increasingly, Africa ― including our friends from Somalia. While our state's experience with immigration has been imperfect, Maine has developed a reputation as being a state that is welcoming to people from around the globe. That is a reputation I am proud of and hope will continue in the future.