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.
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.
Tragedy Shapes Community Leadership Joselo Lucero never imagined that he would become a spokesperson and a symbol for community safety and immigrants’ rights. As he spoke Saturday night before the crowd gathered at the site of his brother’s murder one year earlier, the hundreds who had gathered despite inclement weather stood rapt.