Patchogue | Not in Our Town


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.
"Workers Without Wheels is saying, 'You come in here and maybe we're training you about bicycles, but you might be training us about how to treat each other decently.'" —Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter    "Workers Without Wheels," a short film from Ed Betz Photography features an innovative bicycle program that brings together immigrants and community members in Patchogue, N.Y. The program not only provides bicycles to those in need, but work-training as well. Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, who appeared in Light in the Darkness, leads the Congregational Church of Patchogue.     Workers Without Wheels holds a giveaway and fundraiser tomorrow, May 19. Click here for more details. 
A Latina resident of Phoenix stepped up to the microphone, her voice cracking, nearly tearful.   “Why do they hate us?” she began. “That’s what my seven and eight-year-old niece and nephew—who have been in this country all their lives—ask me when they hear what people say about immigrants here in Arizona.”   The woman spoke to Patchogue, NY Mayor Paul Pontieri in a packed theater in February, following a screening of Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness. Pontieri was sharing his experience during the aftermath of the hate crime killing of Marcelo Lucero and attacks on local immigrants in 2008. He spoke with compassion and conviction about the need to dampen dehumanizing rhetoric against immigrants, most especially because of its effects on children and young people. Pontieri was formerly a middle school assistant principal.   
By Paul Pontieri, Mayor, Incorporated Village of Patchogue Mayor Paul V. Pontieri At the 2011 Congress of Cities and Exposition in Phoenix, Mayor Paul Pontieri of Patchogue, N.Y., helped lead a workshop featuring segments from the PBS documentary Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness, about the community response to an anti-immigrant hate crime killing in his town. The session, sponsored by NLC’s Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration program (MAII) launched a productive conversation with mayors and other city leaders about how to effectively address these complex challenges. Mayor Pontieri will appear at a film screening and discussion on February 8, 6:30 p.m. at Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts Center in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Today marks the third anniversary of the death of Marcelo Lucero, Ecuadorian immigrant and Patchogue, N.Y. resident. According to the Patchogue Patch, approximately 100 people attended services dedicated to Marcelo Lucero and other victims of hate crimes this weekend.  At the services, Marcelo's brother, Joselo, thanked the crowd for attending. "I really feel like this is what I want from the beginning," Joselo Lucero said, "just to have two communities in one place getting along in harmony." Attendees honored other hate crime victimes lost and injured and wrote messages of peace and love in both English and Spanish. After the services, the crowd marched to the spot Marcelo Lucero was killed and scattered roses in his name.  
Our film, Light in the Darkness, focuses on Patchogue, N.Y. following the hate crime killing of local immigrant Marcelo Lucero in 2008. Seven local teenagers from Patchogue-Medford High School were arrested for the attack—one was charged with murder, the other six were charged with gang assault and conspiracy. Over a two-year period, the story follows Mayor Paul Pontieri, the victim’s brother Joselo Lucero, and Patchogue residents as they openly address the underlying causes of the violence, work to heal divisions, and initiate ongoing action to ensure everyone in their village will be safe and respected. Joselo Lucero and family, speaking to the press after the trial.    The crime, trial and other legal actions gained national media attention. On the Light in the Darkness: Legal Actions page, you can read about the tense climate for immigrants in Suffolk County, beginning nearly a decade before Marcelo Lucero's death; the trial of Jeffrey Conroy; and find extended interviews with Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota and prosecutor, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Megan O'Donnell.
On the day of broadcast, we share with you a video extra featuring Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri. Patchogue, New York Mayor Paul Pontieri reflects on his family's history of immigration, his love of his hometown, and how his life has influenced his policy of inclusion for all Patchogue residents.
Released today!   In Not In Our Town: Light In the Darkness, the Patchogue-Medford Library plays a pivotal role as a safe haven for the local immigrant community. In Fall 2008, librarian Jean Kaleda and librarian assistant Gilda Ramos learned that people were afraid to attend evening ESL classes at the library for fear of being attacked while walking the streets at night. The librarians were in the process of organizing a public meeting with local officials to address their concerns. A week later, Marcelo Lucero was murdered and the library became a place for healing and dialogue. Spanish-speaking police officers, Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, and local leaders met with community members to address the concerns of the Latino population in Patchogue. A group of quilters worked in the basement of the library as they stitched "Healing Hands, Mending Hearts," a quilt they later presented to Joselo Lucero, Marcelo's brother.
Librarian assistant Gilda Ramos’ achievements as a dedicated community leader were honored by the Library Journal with the distinguished titled “Paralibrarian of the Year” last month.   The multilingual library assistant, whose efforts to unite a town torn by anti-immigrant violence are documented in our upcoming PBS documentary Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness, accepted the award at a special reception hosted by Library Journal during the American Library Association's annual conference held in New Orleans on June 23-28.  Ramos, her supervisor Jean Kaleda  and other Patchogue-Medford library staff played a key role in the aftermath of the murder of longtime Patchogue resident Marcelo Lucero, who was targeted by a group of teens because he was Latino. “It was heartbreaking,” Ramos told Library Journal. “He was killed in November, and he planned to go home in December.”
All students at South Ocean Middle School in Patchogue, N.Y. gathered to remember Marcelo Lucero and hear a message from his brother Joselo Lucero urging them to resist hate. Prinicpal Linda Pickford opened the program and welcomed Joselo Lucero, Mayor Paul Pontieri, and Michael Locantore, the new Superintendent of Patchogue-Medford School District. After the assembly, students gathered in front of the school to view a new exhibit of "Embracing Our Differences" banners.