Ethnic event spurs tension over accused Hempstead clerk

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A call for a boycott of Hempstead's annual Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month failed to keep people away from the event — in part because Supervisor Kate Murray had town workers help fill the room.

A group of Latino organizations called on residents to skip the event because of the town's treatment of Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, who faces harassment charges. Murray and the town board have asked Bonilla to resign — a move demonstrators said was premature and violated due process.

The Hispanic heritage event played to a packed auditorium in town hall this afternoon.

Outside, demonstrators noted that many town employees were filing into the auditorium from inside the building.

Murray acknowledged before the event that she encouraged workers to attend the event. The town asks its workers to attend "every event," she said.

"Dirty politics? Our employees and our commissioners are here celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month," Murray said.

Murray added that she did not invite Bonilla, who has yet to make an announcement on his future with the town, to attend the event.

Outside, demonstrator Max Ramirez accused Murray of AstroTurfing the event in response to the boycott.

"She emptied out all the offices," Ramirez said.

Bonilla, who is charged with four misdemeanors, is due in court on Oct. 26.

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