All those EVIL Outsiders Bad Mouthing Lawrence! ~ PAYING ATTENTION with TOM DUGGAN


March, 2019

There is no question that the City of Lawrence is the hub of the opioid epidemic in New England. There is also no question that while violent crime is drastically down over the last year, Lawrence is still a crime riddled city and a destination for heroin and other drug traffickers, users, and violent fugitives.

When president Trump, NH Governor Sununu, and Maine Governor LePage, all called out Lawrence as the source of the opioid crisis in New England, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera did what he always does. He shirked responsibility and made it about race.

He whined that outsiders were “kicking Lawrence while we are down.”

He denied Lawrence is where most of the opioids in New England come from. And he derided people from “outside the city” giving Lawrence a bad reputation.

As if Lawrence’s reputation is only bad because those evil outsiders say mean things.

Rivera’s position on the matter was red meat for some Lawrence residents who share his inferiority complex and want to take no responsibility for the condition Lawrence is in.


Last week, a Hollywood documentary called “Lawtown” was released. It highlights the opioid and homelessness problem in the City of Lawrence as a microcosm of the rest of the country. It clearly spells out that this isn’t just in Lawrence but all over the country. And it seeks to address the problem so that it can possibly be solved. 

It is harsh. It is real, and it focuses on the fact that good people are literally dying in the streets of a once proud city, all the while Lawrence politicians deny the problem.

So, it was no surprise when “Lawtown” was released on-line, that some Lawrence residents parroted Rivera’s excuses on social media.

They complained that those “evil outsiders” were once again just “trying to make Lawrence look worse than it already does.”


Clearly Mayor Rivera and many in Lawrence are of the opinion that only people “from Lawrence” should have anything to say about what goes on IN Lawrence. That kind of thinking is adolescent and hypocritical. Here’s why.


First, nearly 100% of Lawrence’s municipal budget comes from state and federal taxpayers. Lawrence’s city budget is nearly $180M but only takes in about $40M in property taxes. Add to that the millions in state and federal grants that are pumped into Lawrence for education, public safety, community development, etc., that are not even counted as part of Lawrence’s municipal budget. That means the outsiders are paying more than 100% of Lawrence’s expenses.

Surely, those paying the freight should have some kind of say over the lack of progress in Lawrence after pumping billions of state and federal dollars into the city over the last 30+ years.


Secondly; Outsiders should also have a say about what happens in Lawrence because surrounding communities are severely affected by the crime in Lawrence. It spills over into Methuen, Dracut, North Andover, Andover and Salem, NH.

In fact, US Attorney Lelling recently stated in another newspaper:

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that most of the heroin and fentanyl being sold on the streets in Portland, Manchester, Concord and other locations in those states is coming from Lawrence,”

“We’ve known for years that a lot of drug trafficking happens in Lawrence, but it’s become a source for the rest of New England.”

Last year the DEA revealed after a major raid in Lawrence that a finger of heroin costs about $400 in Lawrence. But, that same finger of heroin goes for about $600-$800 in central NH, and can fetch as much as $1,000-$1,200 in Maine and Vermont.

Anyone with a basic understanding of economics knows that the price of any product is cheapest where it is most plentiful. Heroin and fentanyl are obviously more plentiful in Lawrence because this is where they are manufactured, packaged, and distributed to other New England locations.

No wonder why Lawrence is a tourist destination for drug dealers all over New England.


Thirdly; On a regular basis, the brave law enforcement officers of the FBI, DEA, US Marshalls, State Police gang and drug units, as well as a plethora of other “outside” law enforcement agencies come into the city to make major arrests for drugs, guns, and violent fugitives. Outsiders, who put their lives on the line to protect the good decent law-abiding citizens of Lawrence. Surely those “outsiders” should have a say.


Lastly; The real kicker here is that Lawrence residents boast of an “immigrant city” and brag about how so many people from so many different countries have come to plant roots in the once thriving mill town. By their own admission, a large number of people in Lawrence are not only “not from Lawrence” but are, in fact not even from this country.

Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s not.

What I AM saying is that an immigrant city which prides itself on the fact that outsiders have come to settle down here from all over the globe, should not be so hypocritical as to complain about outsiders who are trying to call attention to Lawrence’s problems and also trying to fix them – while local ‘leaders’ fail year after year to put a dent in the epidemic of drugs and violence.

There is no doubt that most of the people who live in Lawrence are good decent people who deserve to live in a community that is safe. They deserve leaders who care enough to tackle these issues head on, and call them out for what they are.

But they don’t. So, it’s up to those outside of Lawrence to try and fix the city and perhaps team up with those who live in Lawrence who actually care and want to make a real difference.

If you want to understand why the drug and crime problem in Lawrence has not gotten any better in the last few decades, it’s because Lawrence officials (and those who parrot their talking points) would rather exploit fears of racism, make excuses, and blame “the others” for pointing out the problem.

It’s not because of a documentary or “outsiders” saying mean things. ◊

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts. He is an author, host of the Paying Attention TV/Radio Program, lectures on media bias and police issues, is a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, and a 1990 Police Survivor. You can email your comments to

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7 Responses to All those EVIL Outsiders Bad Mouthing Lawrence! ~ PAYING ATTENTION with TOM DUGGAN

  1. Kelley Savastano Reply

    March 4, 2019 at 11:03 PM

    Very well said Tom.

  2. Atty Robert Crowley LeBlanc Reply

    March 5, 2019 at 12:38 PM

    Terrific column.

  3. Lisa Reply

    March 5, 2019 at 4:42 PM

    Great article Tom.

  4. Lorr Reply

    March 7, 2019 at 12:06 AM

    In order to solve a problem, you have to identify the basic problem. Like you stated, if no one admits what the problem is, then it will not successfully be solved.

  5. Shawn Ferris Reply

    March 7, 2019 at 7:10 AM

    Thanks for ripping the bandaid offf Tom.The article hits the nail on the head.

  6. Jean Reply

    April 23, 2019 at 10:53 PM

    First of all you people are just mad because a city that was once yours and will never be yours again has been taken over by people that you people refer to as immigrants. The truth of the matter is yes Lawrence is a crime and drug ridden city, but only because of addicts that travel from the surrounding cities and states that you people think are much better than Lawrence. You people come to Lawrence and cause all the trouble and do not leave. Your cities and states only seem to look better than Lawrence because you guys are committing all the crimes and doing all your drugs in Lawrence. Its funny how you people can never take responsibility for your actions, it always has to be the colored people at fault. Just face the facts that you are a bunch of racist people that can not handle the fact that your community is in demise because of drugs just like colored people’s communities were back in the 90’s. The difference is this time it’s not the government planting the drugs in the community, this time it’s you people coming to our communities and looking for these drugs for yourselves. You people are to blame for what is going on in Lawrence not the immigrants because the immigrants are not the drug addicts, they are just the hardworking people trying to keep their homes and businesses safe from the likes of you people!

  7. Tom Duggan

    Tom Duggan Reply

    May 16, 2019 at 7:38 PM

    “but only because of addicts that travel from the surrounding cities and states that you people think are much better than Lawrence.”
    Without even addressing your blatant racism, labeling and stereotyping, WHY do people come from other communities to Lawrence? Because THIS is where the drugs are. Nobody blames “immigrants” (which by the way is not a race) …., people blame attitudes like YOURS for pointing at outsiders and blaming “the other” for Lawrence’s problems. If Lawrence wasn’t the distribution center for heroin and fentanyl, people from “outside Lawrence” wouldn’t be coming here to buy their drugs and causing problems. Maybe if people like you actually admitted the problem is here in Lawrence and actually DID SOMETHING about your own community that you pretend to be proud of, Lawrence wouldn’t be the hell hole it has become. Good luck in the future with your racist attitudes and head in the sand philosophy. You are obviously going to need it. ~ TOM

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