Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe held a press conference outside City Hall Monday to address concerns he has received from several residents about their safety and place within the Gainesville community following this month’s elections.
Throughout, Poe offered words of encouragement and reiterated there’s nothing to worry about. (His full remarks are in the above video.)
“Our city is committed to serving every person, anytime, anywhere,” the mayor said outside City Hall Monday afternoon. “Our city is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our citizens and employees regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship, or who they love.”
Gainesville comprises employees, residents and visitors who support each of the presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and President-elect Donald Trump.
Regardless of which candidate each resident supports, “the only way to move forward is to move forward together,” Poe said, paraphrasing Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Poe noted that on March 17, the City Commission adopted the “Welcoming Gainesville” resolution designating Gainesville as Florida’s first official “Welcoming City” as part of the Welcoming America Network.
The resolution encourages immigrant groups, government agencies, community institutions and business leaders to make the city a receptive, hospitable place for all who come here, Poe said.
The mayor reiterated that the Gainesville Police Department does not have a policy in place that seeks to locate and report illegal immigrant to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
He encouraged Gainesville residents to reach out to their neighbors and ask them if they are feeling anxious or threatened.
“Now is the time for members of our community to show love for one another,” he said. “We need to be respectful of different perspectives and opinions while standing up for the values that make us Gainesville.”
More information about Welcoming Gainesville can be found on its website or by calling the national Welcoming America Network office at 404-631-6593. Employees there are prepared to provide citizens with resources and support through any difficult transition, Poe said.
Citizens who are victims or witnesses of harassment, intimidation or threats can call the Gainesville Police Department at 352-955-1818 to report the incident, Poe said. But if they’re in immediate danger, he added, they should call 911.
“As always, your city stands ready to assist you and support you however we can,” Poe said before taking questions from the audience.