Patchogue, Wounds of Hate Reopened: A Vigil for Peace | Not in Our Town

Patchogue, Wounds of Hate Reopened: A Vigil for Peace

Joselo Lucero with his mother and sister after the trial of Marcelo Lucero's killer. (Photo credit: Craig Ruttle/AP)

Our hearts go out to the Lucero family and the people of Patchogue, who have worked for years to repair the damage caused by the traumatic hate crime killing of Marcelo Lucero in 2008. This week, the people of this Long Island village learned that Presidential Candidate Donald Trump will be holding a fundraiser just steps away from where Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was killed in a hate crime attack by a group of local high school students. Marcelo Lucero’s brutal death in 2008 gained vast media attention and awakened the region to the dangers of anti-immigrant hate speech and prejudice.

Patchogue finds itself as the centerpoint once again for the deep emotional and political divisions in the country. The editorial board of the New York Times said Trump’s fundraising appearance in Patchogue is a “disgraceful provocation” in a community that “sorely needs compassion.” The Wall Street Journal fired back with an attack on a Patchogue Minister, and a reminder about the free speech rights of the organizers of Trump’s event.

Marcelo's Mom died last year. She expressed incredible grief and sadness when we interviewed her for this film, as she appeared during the trial of her son's killer, and at the many events to remember her son.

Joselo Lucero and Mayor Paul Pontieri with residents of Patchogue. photo: Jackson Hill

Not In Our Town’s PBS film Light in the Darkness (available here) shows a community grappling with the hate speech and intolerance that led to the killing of a local immigrant by a group of their young people. Our film team will never forget the grief and trauma we witnessed and experienced as we followed this story in the years after Marcelo Lucero’s killing. But the film is, above all, a moving portrait of how a community stands up to hate. In this story of Patchogue at a crisis point, Joselo Lucero and leaders like Mayor Pontieri showed us how a town can begin to  heal by working together to address the underlying intolerance that can lead to violence. Mayor Paul Pontieri has led his community in an effort to stand up to intolerance and continues to welcome and include immigrants into the life of the Village. Over the past few years, the people of this community have shown that compassion and inclusion can overcome hate. “For me the result of the death of Marcelo Lucero is a solidly forged belief that my responsibility is to my residents regardless of their immigration status. Men and woman working, raising families, learning our customs, and adhering to our laws deserve the mayor’s support as the attempt to integrate into any city, town, or village,” Pontieri said to Long Island Wins.

Joselinne Marca and Joselo Lucero attend a vigil for the 5th anniversary of Marcelo Lucero's death. (Photo Credit: Johnny Milano/Newsday)

Joselo Lucero remains a vocal and passionate voice not only for his brother, but for immigrants everywhere. As he has from the day he spoke at the first vigil for Marcelo less than a week after his murder, Joselo Lucero is calling for peace and unity at a vigil in Patchogue.  The vigil will take place from 4-6pm on April 14 on Railroad Avenue behind the train station. The organizers of the vigil emphasize that the event is not a political rally or a protest and that only clergy will be speaking:

“Please join us for a candlelight vigil with music, reflection, and prayer at the place where Marcelo Lucero was murdered in a hate crime on November 8, 2008. The Candlelight Vigil for Unity and Peace will remember Marcelo, as well as all other victims of hate crimes. We will be standing in support of the culture of peace and hope that the Lucero family called for since Marcelo’s death. This is not a protest. It is a united presence for peace, tolerance and understanding among people of (but not limited to) all races, cultures, religions, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status and ability.  Bring candles – no signs please.”

Other groups will be protesting nearby. “Members of the community will be gathering in Patchogue to recall the hatred that led up to Marcelo’s death, and to unequivocally reject hate speech masquerading as political opinion,” said Patrick Young of Long Island Wins, a local immigrant rights organization.

-Patrice O'Neill 

Learn more about this story

Mayor Paul Pontieri speaks about the role of a mayor in immigrant integration (2/6/12): A Local Perspective: For Mayors, it is about Integration, not Immigration

NPR article and radio program (9/21/11): Film Sheds Light on Hate Crimes, Sparks Community Action


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