Amherst, MA to House Guantanamo Bay Inmates


Certified Shitlord
AMHERST - This quaint leafy town in Western Massachusetts is known for its diverse mix of college students and retirees, a former farming community characterized by suburban small talk just as much as cultural institutions. But it is never one to shy from foreign policy, either.

“We like to set our own foreign policy,’’ said Ruth Hooke, a retired University of Massachusetts professor, a Town Meeting member, and participant in Pioneer Valley No More Guantanamos, a local chapter of a national movement calling for the release of detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

Hooke and others want to welcome at least two of the detainees to Amherst, population around 30,000 depending on whether classes are in session.

Under a petition Hooke submitted to the town’s Select Board - approved by a 2-1 vote Monday night - the town will call on Congress to rescind its ban on detainees resettling in the United States, and will welcome Ahmed Belbacha, originally from Algeria, and Ravil Mingazov, arrested in Pakistan, to Amherst. The measure will go before a Special Town Meeting on Nov. 2.

Cuba is a long way from Pioneer Valley, but Amherst has tackled foreign policy before, voting in the past against the war in Iraq and for the United States to engage in diplomatic talks with Iran.

Hooke noted that Amherst has a sizable refugee population. And thus it was only natural that this town, home to UMass and two private colleges, would open its borders once again, possibly making its local government the first in the country to debate the issue.

“This is a typical Amherst thing to do,’’ said Jonathan Tucker, the town’s planning director. “Amherst has a long history of engaging in foreign policy, and it’s not out of character for a New England town to believe it has as much a right to weigh in on foreign policy as the federal or state governments.’’

Some in town do oppose.
So what do you think? If this was in your town, would you be upset, worried, happy, anything?

Personally, from what I can find, these two were detained with no good reason (like a lot of GB suspects) so I don't think I'd be worried in the slightest if a city in our country offered them a place to live. Neither men can return to their respective country out of fear of factional or governmental response to their presence.

I'm not 100% happy with it, but this country has prided itself on offering refugees safe haven for a long time now and since GB is our mess, we should start to right the situation. Closing the prison only does so much.


Son of Liberty
I'm not in favor so much for shutting down Gitmo as I am for figuring out somehow who these detainees are and should they be let go or tried and prosecuted.

I do agree with you that I wouldn't be 100% happy with it if it were my hometown, but we do need to start making the situation right.
Never was a fan of the Guantanamo Bay prison to begin with and I opted for putting them in a maximum security prison in the middle of nowhere as well. But I guess this is a decent alternative as well.