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Peaceful Resolution Needed on Clemente Park

May 17, 2019 GMT

The misconception that the only reason for the proposed name change for Clemente Park is because Cambodians now populate the neighborhood prompted me to enter this debate and write this letter.

As anti-immigrant sentiments grow, and deportations increase, it’s disappointing to read such bigoted comments like “Asians took over the neighborhood,” “we can’t let them change the name of the park too,” or “let the new demographic find their own.”

During the 1980s-1990s, traumatized Cambodian immigrants resettled in Lowell, struggling to acclimate due to language/cultural barriers, undiagnosed mental -health issues and the dominant culture’s conflicting values. The history of trauma, corruption and differing political ideals destroyed people’s trust in one another.


Cambodians Americans need a neutral establishment to unite them and an affirmation from the city of Lowell that it stands by its Cambodian community. Cambodian Americans utilize the park, celebrate their New Year there and serve on the committee. Some say “Cambodia Town” is enough, but privately owned businesses close and storefronts fade.

Change is the only constant, and changes will continue.

In 1973, the City Council renamed the park to honor Roberto Clemente after his tragic death. I believe this gesture was also meant to meet the needs of a grieving community. I am hoping it can happen again.

I and other community members respectfully ask that Cambodian Americans who contribute to this city’s economy and culture be provided with a symbol within the city to unite them and include them in its history.

— Sanary Phen, Lowell