By Pete Stidman
ACORN Massachusetts' head organizer Noemi "Mimi"
Ramos arrived at the organization's offices in
Fields Corner Thursday morning, Oct. 16, to find
the front door unlocked, three desktop computers
missing, internet and phone lines ripped out of the
walls and general disarray.
Ten minutes after she was scheduled to start for
the day at 10 a.m., she was calling the police
instead. Detectives collected photos and
fingerprints and discovered a small basement window
open in the rear of the building at 196 Adams
Street, with no sign of forced entry. The
building's burglar alarm was also torn out of the
wall, and a vending machine was damaged, the change
"We think a lot of this may have to do with
what's happening nationally," said Ramos on the
phone later that day, referring to charges of voter
registration fraud that were brought against the
national ACORN organization. The alleged
irregularities were found in eight states, but
Massachusetts was not among them. "Massachusetts
isn't a swing state," said Ramos. "We've only
registered 700 people to vote."
In Wednesday night's debate, Sen. John McCain
said ACORN "is now on the verge of maybe
perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter
history in this country, maybe destroying the
fabric of democracy." But many election law experts
have since said McCain's statement is
Sen. Barack Obama countered that the
irregularities were apparently due to low-level
employees of ACORN, who filled out cards with fake
names to earn their pay rather than register voters
Spokesman for ACORN's national office, Charles
Jackson, said that another break-in, so far
unconfirmed, may have occured in the organization's
"I can tell you that I have been receiving and
other staff have been receiving threatening emails,
racist emails from partisan forces," said Jackson.
"We are deeply concerned about the break-in in
Boston and we're hoping that it's a trend that
won't continue. It's disturbing that it's reaching
this level of people showing their discontent... We
will not let this deter us from our goal of
ensuring every person has the right to participate
in our democratic process."
On Sunday, the Boston Herald ran a story
naming Dorchester-based attorney Brian W. Mellor as
a defender of ACORN and Project Vote - a partner in
the voter registration drive in question. Mellor's
has his Boston office in the rear of the Adams
Street office and said he has also recieved a few
hateful emails and voice mails.
"It's not like 'I'm going to kill you' like
other people have gotten, but it's 'You stupid
lawyer' and 'You can't get a better job' and that
kind of stuff," said Mellor.
Police say the break-in is under investigation,
and did not comment on any possible leads or
suspects in the case. The Dorchester
ACORN headquarters has been the nerve center of
the local efforts to defeat ballot question one,
which deals with the proposed abolition of the
state income tax.
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