About 200 people showed up to a rally on Terry Street in Patchogue Village on Sunday that came in response to reports of Ku Klux Klan flyers that were recently found on parked cars nearby.
The flyers have been turning up in the village since spring.
Jen Cotter, one of the organizers, described Sunday’s effort as a grassroots reaction to the KKK flyers.
It was being billed as a condemnation of hatred, but also a celebration of diversity, she said.
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Cotter and others who came to the rally under the ArtsSpace Lofts building believe Patchogue is being targeted specifically because of its diverse makeup.
“Those outside forces who believe that our differences can be leveraged to promote divisiveness fail to recognize that we believe those differences make us stronger,” Cotter told the crowd. “Patchogue is a village of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, volunteers, a community of dreamers …”
It’s also a community still healing from “the consequences of unchecked hate,” she added, citing the 2008 hate crime killing of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero.
“We swore we would never let that happen again, and today, we repeat: never again,” she said, urging the crowd to repeat as well.
The event also attracted people from outside of Patchogue Village, such as Josh Comden, 29, a Stony Brook graduate student from Pennsylvania currently living in Centereach.
He carried a sign that said, “White Supremacy Hurts Us All.”
Comden (pictured below, with sign) had been following some anti-white supremacy efforts on social media — which was how he learned about Sunday morning’s rally.
“When we have these issues, let’s say the Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter issue, I think a lot of things that people don’t understand is that white supremacy does hurt us all, in that it makes some white people foot soldiers of the ruling class of people,” he said. “Instead of facing the problems that are hurting them and their society, they end up blaming another group of people.”
Patchogue artist John Cino also took to the mic Sunday morning.
Cino called hate “a disease that likes to perpetuate itself,”
“What we need to do is not go out there and hate the people who disagree with us, but show them through our positive example of love, tolerance and peace, that we have a system that just might better than hate,” he said. “And maybe some of those people will eventually heal their wounds of hate and join us on the side of light.”
“The fact is we are one of the most integrated communities on Long Island,” Cotter also said during her remarks to the crowd. “And we are proud of that. We are proud of of colors, our creeds, our genders, and we reject those who seek to destroy the bonds of this community.”
Top: Jen Cotter addresses those gathered Sunday on Terry Street.