Chairman Montilla Sworn-in Interim Task Force of the Local Dominican American Council in Lawrence, MA

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Posing with DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Sr. and his wife Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, some of the participants who attended the National Dominican American Council meeting at Casa Dominicana in Lawrence, MA on Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Washington, DC. (Sunday, December 4, 2016).  On the afternoon of Saturday, December 3, 2016, Nestor Montilla, Sr., Chairman of the Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR), the only non-profit, non partisan organization advocating for the civil rights and socio-economic and political advancement of U.S. Dominicans, visited the City of Lawrence, MA, to strengthen ties with the local Latino leadership, to listen to their concerns about pressing issues impacting their community, and to swear-in an interim Task Force to oversee the immediate expansion and restructuring of the local Dominican American Council.

The meeting was held at 5pm in Casa Dominicana located  at 170 Common Street (3rd Floor) in Lawrence, MA 01841.

Participants included Ana Medina, a long-time community leader and member of the Dominican American National Roundtable, Eric Machuca, P. Joel, Ing. Wilfredo Peralta, Mateo Matias, attorney Natalia Crisostomo, Nazario Esquea, Alfredo Del Rosario, Martha Carrasco, Ana Perdomo, Dr. Alciades Acosta, Francisco Tineo, and Santiago Matias, a local community radio pundit.

By unanimous decision, participants selected Santiago Matias and Ana Perdomo to lead the Task Force until the next National Dominican American Council meeting to be held in Lawrence, MA in early 2017.

The conversation centered on a variety of issues ranging from concerns about immigration, police treatment of the community, and access to educational opportunities, to the urgent need to unify the community to secure a safer and better future for all city residents. Each attendee had an opportunity to express concerns about happenings in Lawrence and what needed to be done to tackle many of those issues.

Attendees expressed their sadness and particular concerns about how the local police responded regarding the disappearance on November 18, 2016 of Lee Manuel Paulino, a 16 years old student, whose body was found dismembered on December 1, 2016, near the Merrimack River off Water Street in Lawrence, an area that had been searched by the family days before.

Meeting attendees requested the Dominican American National Roundtable and the National Dominican American Council to send a letter to local, state and federal authorities, including to Maura T. Healey, Attorney General of the State of Massachusetts, asking them to look into the ongoing police investigation of the case for potential signs of police negligence or lax investigative procedures. DANR President Claribel Martinez-Marmolejos and Chairman Nestor Montilla, Sr. will send letter on Monday, December 6th, 2016.

Meeting participants also expressed concerns about President elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Alabama U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General, and his views on civil rights, civil liberties, immigration and voting rights. Attendees pleaded for the Dominican American National Roundtable to take action and testify before the U.S. Senate against the nomination of Senator Sessions for U.S. Attorney General.

Considering the fact that currently 28% of Lawrence, MA population (77,657) was born in Dominican Republic, meeting participants strongly recommended to DANR and NDAC to develop and implement immediately an advocacy plan to help people and immigrants in general understand their rights and responsibilities as residents and citizens of the United States; and to prepare for what’s to come.

According to the US Census, out of all U.S. cities with, proportionally, the most residents born in the Dominican Republic, Lawrence, MA ranks first with 28%. The second is West Hazleton, PA (26.4%),  followed by Perth Amboy, NJ (19.9%), Haverstraw, NY, Hazleton, PA, West Haverstraw, NY, Paterson, NJ, Sleepy Hollow, NY, Freeport, NY, Passaic, NJ, Providence, RI, Union City, NJ, Haledon, NJ, West New York, NJ, and among other urban areas, Lynn, MA.

The Pew Hispanic Research Center estimated in 2015 that Dominicans were the 5th largest Hispanic group in the U.S. accounting for roughly 1.8 million (3.3% of the U.S. population estimated at 316,129 million).  The U.S. states with the largest concentrations of Dominicans include:  New York (674,787; 47.7%); New Jersey (197,922; 14.0%); Florida (172,451); Massachusetts (103,292); Pennsylvania (62,348); and Rhode Island, which is currently the only state where Dominicans are the largest Hispanic group.

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About DANR

The Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR) is the only national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC, advocating for the socio-economic and civic development of Dominicans in the United States. DANR is presided over by a National Board of Directors led by an Executive Committee composed of a president, a vice president, a youth president, a chairman, a treasurer, and a vice president representing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. www.danr.org.  info@danr.org

About NDAC

The National Dominican American Council (NDAC) is a civic-community-engagement entity working jointly with the Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR) and progressive entities. NDAC, presided over by a Governing Board and a Chairman, is composed of local member councils with the role of setting the national agenda and advocating for civil-rights and the socio-economic and political enfranchisement of all Latinos and Dominican-Americans in areas concerning education, economic development, health, public safety, immigration and community empowerment.  nationalcouncil@danr.org