Donald Trump has been invited to Patchogue, Long Island, on Thursday, April 14th, for a “fundraiser reception” sponsored by The Suffolk County Republican Committee at the Emporium nightclub, which is the site of numerous previously reported acts of violence, including a performer, “Stew Deez”, who was arrested and charged with second degree reckless endangerment, and second degree criminal possession of a weapon which he fired into the air during an altercation after the show.
The Emporium is on the same street ~ Railroad Street ~ as the hate crime murder of an undocumented Ecuadorian immigrant, Marcelo Lucero, at the hands of seven teenagers from the local high school. The Emporium is also around the corner from the Congregational Church of Patchogue where Lucero’s funeral was held, and over which I presided. A few days later, the church also hosted, in cooperation with Hispanics Across America, a sanctuary space where alleged hate crime victims were invited to anonymously tell their stories. The portable hard drive of the testimonies was recorded by a PBS affiliate reporter. Days later, the portable hard drive was seized as evidence in a grand jury investigation into alleged civil and human rights violations. This immigration and hate crime nightmare garnered national headlines and spurred a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation; two nationally-distributed documentary films (one on PBS); a book by a Pulitzer Prize winning author (Mirta Ojito); and much more. The effects of this tragedy are still felt in this community and around the country, seven years later.
I am a strong advocate of free speech. But I am also a strong advocate of not fanning the embers of fear, hate, racism and potential violence that are already present and growing on social media sites and elsewhere by pro-and-anti-Trump people in regards to this impending visit. Therefore, I strongly requested that the Suffolk County Republican Committee rescind their gala with Mr. Trump ~ or at least move it to a venue or community with less of a hate crime circus atmosphere and history. A silent sanctuary sitting on the 14th is planned at the church.
This may seem like a local issue to you ~ but that is what this community thought a few years ago as well before the story exploded onto the national and international scene. Hopefully, this is merely deja vu; and not prophecy.
Dwight Lee Wolter is pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York and is the author of three books on forgiveness. He blogs at dwightleewolter.com