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New North Adams City Councilor Says He’s Grown Since Racist Posts

A man in a suit jacket and sunglasses walks in a parade with a young person holding a campaign sign
Nicholas J Mantello
Peter Oleskiewicz Facebook
Peter Oleskiewicz

The North Adams, Massachusetts city council voted Tuesday night to fill the seat of a disgraced former councilor with a history of racist public comments with a different city resident carrying similar baggage.

Robert Moulton resigned from the all-white nine-person body in July after characterizing the Black Lives Matter movement as a terrorist organization and the COVID-19 pandemic as overblown by politicians on his public access TV show.

Now, his seat will be filled by Peter Oleskiewicz – owner of Desperados, a Mexican restaurant in the city.

“We still have a lot of open agenda items that still need to be addressed and completed," Oleskiewicz  told WAMC. "I think having a ninth councilor now, we can get some more forward motion going. And I know this year’s going to really tough with the budget because COVID really put a hurting on everything. Even I see it here, being the owner of a business, the revenues are real down – and the same’s going to show with the city. And we don’t know we’re going to get from the state, and we also don’t know what we’re also going to receive from our residents.”

Oleskiewicz’s own history with racist statements caught up with him in 2018, when he withdrew from seeking the 1Berkshire "Newcomer of the Year" award. Screenshots obtained by WAMC show him posting Islamophobic slurs, demands that Spanish-speakers use English in the United States, his desire to see President Obama assassinated, and other remarks targeted at people of color between 2012 and 2014 on Facebook.

The following images contain racial slurs, threats of violence, and swear words.

In a January 17th, 2012 Facebook post, Oleskiewicz posts: "What the fuck. speak english. I am on my lunch break, there are 13 people at 3 tables. All speaking spanish very loudly. Sorry but this is my view.. if your here, speak the language"
In a January 17th, 2012 Facebook post, Oleskiewicz posts: "What the fuck. speak english. I am on my lunch break, there are 13 people at 3 tables. All speaking spanish very loudly. Sorry but this is my view.. if your here, speak the language." In a later post in the same thread, he expresses a desire to punch the Spanish-speaking people.

In a Facebook post, Oleskiewicz says "We should hang every politician, start with a piece of shit obama. and start over. we are headed in the wrong direction. elect me president, if you werent born here goodbye. Amadinajhad Would be dead the first hour In the mexican borders would be closed. How ya like me now....."

In two posts, Oleskiewicz says "Make your taxes go up even more to put them on welfare, feed them, house them, give them healthcare , build them schools , should I keep going? And the mother fuckers still won't learn to speak English. How has a stray bullet not found Obama" and "we need to close the borders. no vacancy we are full. This country can sustain itself the way we are going"

In a Facebook post, Oleskiewicz says "I wouldn't work anywhere near a raghead habib who is sitting on 10,000 gallons of gasoline..WHAT IF..."

In a Facebook post dated July 17th, 2013, Oleskiewicz posted "Look at the people who want the Stand Your Ground Law repealed. fucking hood rats just want to make it easier to steal and rob you.."

Above a USA Today article "Vermont restaurant fried by bacon ad backlash," Oleskiewicz posted "Fuck the Muslims. If offended go home" on Facebook on September 15th, 2014. In a comment below the article, he warns "Sharia law is coming to a town near you"

In a Facebook post, Oleskiewicz says "This Michael Brown shit is driving me crazy. Enough already. These fucking idiots on CNN want to keep picking apart this cop, but what about that piece of shit Michael Brown"

“I say that I've owned up to everything I’ve ever said and done," Oleskiewicz  told WAMC. "I don’t run away from it. I faced my issues head on. I learned over the past few years. I met with some advocates that deal with equality and I opened up my eyes and learned quite a bit. And I want my past few years of being active in the community to define my character of today, not things from the past. And like I said, I did own up to everything I say, and I’ll learn until the day I all the mistakes that I have made and how to continue forward from them.”

Oleskiewicz was the 10th-place finisher in the 2019 election, making him next in line in the popular vote for a seat on the council. After the interested parties for the seat gave their presentations at Tuesday night’s meeting, the council voted quickly to select Oleskiewicz without debate or discussion.

“I hadn’t had any conversations with the other councilors about the appointment just to maintain integrity. The only conversations we had were about process, as this isn’t something that happens very often," said Council vice president Jason LaForest. “However, I had received a lot of comment from members of the public suggesting the council really should select the 10th candidate who was not seated on council in the last election, and that was Mr. Oleskiewicz. And that is keeping in the recent precedent of the council to move the 10th candidate into a slot when it becomes vacant. That was the process that seated Councilor Wilkinson several years ago, and of course he has returned the council subsequently as an incumbent.”

LaForest said that unlike former Councilor Moulton, Oleskiewicz has apologized for his racist remarks and “significantly redeemed himself” as a community member.

Oleskiewicz is expected to be sworn in as a councilor at the August 25th city council meeting.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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