Residents stand together in Greenport against Charlottesville violence

08/13/2017 8:00 PM |

About 100 people gathered in Greenport Village’s Mitchell Park Sunday night to express solidarity against the white supremacy and violence that has taken place in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Attendees said they learned about the event from a Facebook message posted by Cutchogue resident Catherine McFall, who called the turnout “amazing.”

“It’s restored my faith in humanity,” she said.

The event brought residents together from across the North Fork, holding posters and discussing why it was important to gather Sunday night in the park.

Samantha Payne-Markel of Southold stood on a park bench to address the crowd and thanked Ms. McFall for getting the word out, calling on other people who do not “have hate in their hearts” to get involved and keep the conversation going. She also expressed concern about the Ohio man accused of killing one person and injuring about 20 others after driving his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville Saturday.

“I’m hoping that this is the start of not the first, not the second, but a multitude of conversations where I’m not the only who’s taking about ‘this is not okay’ because it’s not,” Ms. Payne-Markel said.

Louise Harrison of North Forkers for the Common Good addresses the crowd. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

Other speakers also addressed the crowd, including Jim Shaw of Greenport; Louise Harrison of local advocacy group North Forkers for the Common Good; and Greenport Village Trustee Julia Robins.

Ms. Robins said she was not there as a representative but “as a human being.” White supremacy and hate are unacceptable in this country and change needs to happen now, she said.

“This is not a Democratic issue. It’s not a Republican issue. It’s not a Conservative or a Liberal issue — it’s a people issue,” she said. “We the people of the United States find this unacceptable.”

Greenport Village Trustee Julia Robins. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

Mary Ellen and Tom Tomaszewski of Laurel said they’ve been upset watching the news as events unfolded in Charlottesville.

“The whole thing has been horrific,” Mr. Tomaszewski said. “We have the need to have a lot of support to make things change.”

“Also, to know there are like-minded people in our area with us,” Ms. Tomaszewski added. She held a sign that read, “Left or right we all know wrong,” and the back read, “My grandkids deserve better!”

Greenport residents Laura Held and Lori Cohen also said they felt compelled to attend Sunday’s gathering and wore shirts that read, “Unity Unidad.”

“You can’t just sit back anymore,” Ms. Cohen said.

Jackie Dandelion, who is visiting the North Fork for the summer, said it feels like “we’re living in a bizarro world.”

“I can’t believe that so much hate is emboldened to be so public,” she said, fighting back tears. “It makes me sad. It makes me sick.

“I just feel disbelief that my fellow citizens are harboring such hatred and I know that it’s out there,” she continued. “It’s been out there, but there are less violent forms of racism and homophobia and intolerance that are always around.”

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Top photo: Greenport residents Laura Held and Lori Cohen at Sunday’s gathering in Mitchell Park. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

Original story (1:30 p.m.):

North Fork residents plan to gather at Mitchell Park in Greenport Village Sunday at 6 p.m. to express solidarity against the violence that has taken place in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The event was the idea of Cutchogue resident Christine McFall, according to SoutholdLocal.

In an interview Sunday, Ms. McFall told The Suffolk Times she read on Facebook a call for communities across the country to hold vigils in solidarity with those who stood against white supremacy groups in Charlottesville.

“I just asked a question on Facebook,” said Ms. McFall, adding she does not consider herself an organizer but plans to be in Mitchell Park Sunday night. “Like so many other people, I think it’s devastating to see the … expression of hatred. It’s just so incredibly sad.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin condemned the violence Saturday in a statement.

“These violent acts inspired by deep hatred are disgusting, un-American, and unwelcome in out great nation,” he said. “Differences will always exists and it is ok to disagree in America, but they violence taking place today in Charlottesville is absolutely not the right way to disagree with each other. We can and must do more to unite as a nation. There must be zero tolerance whatsoever for the extremes that try to tear us apart. Patriotic Americans of all walks of life must come together and bridge those divides for the sake of our country and our people.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also released a statement Saturday and launched a petition urging President Donald Trump to condemn and denounce white supremacy.

“After the deadly and ugly events in Charlottesville I am calling on President Trump to clearly and unequivocally condemn and denounce the violent protest organized by the white supremacists and neo-Nazis, including Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, with support from David Duke. President Trump must immediately call this for what it is – no cover, no euphemisms,” he said. “This was a terror attack by white supremacists.”

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