Middletown library letter causes controversy - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Middletown library letter causes controversy

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Letter written by CEO of Russell Library has caused controversy in Middletown. (WFSB) Letter written by CEO of Russell Library has caused controversy in Middletown. (WFSB)

A letter posted at a local library is being read all over town, but it's how it’s being interpreted by some people in Middletown that's causing some controversy.

Many residents said the letter from the Russell Library advocates for inclusion, while others said feel it's a thinly veiled threat to ignore President Donald's Trump's temporary immigration ban.

The letter was posted last week on the Russell Library’s website, but this week it's causing quite a bit of controversy. Two vastly different ways of thinking about one relatively short letter.

The letter was written by Russell Library's Director and CEO Matthew Poland. It talks about the library being a place where “all” people are free to live, be, think, and speak their own truths.

"I just think it's a great thing and it's just what the library should be doing.  It should be a place that stands for freedom and inclusivity,” Dic Wheeler, of Middletown, said. “My parents were both immigrants. This is a country made of immigrants."

The letter also addressed the current political climate and said that many people and communities are experiencing instability, discrimination, and marginalization.  

"Russell Library is a safe place. You are welcome here. You are valued here. And we are here to serve you,” the letter went on to say.

"I stand by what the library director wrote.  It's an affirmative statement.  It's not about anyone,” Middletown Mayor Dan Drew said. “It's not partisan. It says everyone is welcome and there's nothing wrong with that."

While even the director reiterates there was no intent for political undertones, others don't see it that way. They said while the letter falls short of saying the library is a safe haven for illegal immigrants, they feel it comes close.

"That basically says that this is a safe place for anyone. If you're a criminal, if you're a terrorist, if you're an illegal immigrant,” Brian Clark, of Middletown said. “It doesn't matter they seem to have put the doors wide open to whoever wants to be here."

In a statement, Poland said in part, "...We may be the last truly democratic, apolitical public institution in the nation - that means that we are here to serve everyone.”

To see the full statement and the entire letter, click here. 

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