Hempstead Village community leaders decried hate and bigotry during a rally Tuesday and promised to stand together to promote peace on Long Island after the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
About 50 people attended the peace rally on the steps of Village Hall, which was sponsored by the village government, the Black-Jewish Coalition for Justice and the Nassau County district attorney’s office.
Mayor Don Ryan said the village has “cultural and ethnic diversity” and its residents stand united to support peace. Ryan called for “one Hempstead, one nation” during the roughly half-hour rally and said the “violence and tragic loss of life” in Charlottesville “has no place in society.”
Earlier this month, a white supremacist rally in the Virginia college town led to violence, as hate groups clashed with counterprotesters. A man seen rallying with the hate groups is accused of deliberately driving his car into a group of counterprotesters killing a woman and injuring at least a dozen other people.
In Hempstead on Tuesday, rabbis Marc Gruber and Elliot Skiddell, of Central Synagogue-Beth Emeth in Rockville Centre, held signs that read: “HATE HAS NO HOME HERE”.
Rabbi Art Vernon, a co-chair of the Black-Jewish Coalition for Justice, said, “We are here to say ‘No more.’ It’s time to end the hate here . . . This is the United States of America. Hate seeks to divide us.”
Maureen McCormick, executive assistant district attorney, said prosecutors in her office work with the community to foster relationships with residents across Nassau County and to prosecute hate crimes. She said the Ku Klux Klan has tried to recruit on Long Island this year and while the First Amendment protects free speech, “our laws do not justify violence.”
Kawaljit Chandi, executive director of the civic group Comite Civico Salvadoreño, a civic group of Salvadorans, said since moving to Hempstead a few years ago, “wherever I go, I feel welcome.”
“Hate has no home in Hempstead,” he added.
Ryan, in an interview after the rally, said the village’s diversity is a “tremendous plus.”
“I hope it inspires our residents and guests to turn to their neighbors in loving, caring and doing,” he said.