SAN DIEGO — El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis, apologized Thursday for remarks he made about the Chaldean community, this as one Congressman and several community leaders are calling on him to step down over what they say are racist statements.
“First time they come over here, it doesn’t take them too long to learn where all the freebies are at,” was one of the several controversial remarks allegedly made by the Mayor in an audio-recorded interview done by reporter Arun Gupta.
“The interview was kind of shocking,” said Gupta who spoke with Lewis during a visit to El Cajon earlier this year, to work on a story about the city’s Chaldean community on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“If anyone within our community felt hurt by my comments, I apologize,” said Lewis in a written statement Thursday.
“I believe my remarks have been taken out of context,” he added.
“That’s a little hard for me to understand,” replied Gupta, who says he uploaded the raw interview with Lewis online to prove the remarks weren’t misconstrued.
Gupta says Mayor Lewis also told him about his trouble distinguishing between a Chaldean and a Mexican dealing drugs, based on the color of their skin.
“When you see them drive by all you see is a person, a dark skinned person, selling drugs so you don’t know if it’s Chaldean or Mexican,” says the recording of a man said the be Lewis.
Other prejudice remarks were also made during the interview.
“We’ve had these people on aid in regards to free lunches and its like ok, free lunches are being picked up by Mercedes Benz’s,” said the voice of the man believed to be the El Cajon Mayor; Gupta then asks for clarification, “you mean kids that are getting free lunches, they’ll be picked up?” asked the reporter; “By Mercedes Benz’s,” stressed the interviewee.
“The things that he has said, the racist comments that he has made show that he’s not fit to be Mayor of El Cajon,” said U.S. Congressman, Juan Vargas who along with members of the Chaldean community and the N.A.A.C.P are calling on Lewis to resign.