Showing unity with Charlottesville, Virginia, at a Wednesday night vigil in Mineola, political and religious leaders as well as community members decried violence, bigotry and racism.
“It’s time to be tolerant to work in peace to share the country . . . to share the prosperity, the wellness for everyone,” said Sylvana Loyola of Lynbrook, one of about 120 people gathered for the vigil.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, District Attorney Madeline Singas and acting Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder all proclaimed that Nassau has no tolerance for the neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists who marched over the weekend in Charlottesville with deadly consequences.
Singas, whose office investigates hate crimes, noted Nassau also grapples with the same forces.
“We know there are those who harbor those views among us,” she said, citing as examples the hateful symbols scrawled on places of worship and distributed in handouts on the Long Island Rail Road.
Charlottesville’s plan to relocate a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in a city park spurred weekend rallies by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The demonstrations turned violent Saturday after supporters of the Lee statue clashed with counter-protesters.
Critics of President Donald Trump, including some members of his own party, criticized him for initially blaming “many sides” for the violence before specifically mentioning neo-Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists Monday. Tuesday, he faced renewed criticism after again putting blame for the deadly violence on both sides equally.
Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old killed Saturday after officials said an Ohio man with white supremacist beliefs drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, wanted to “put down hate,” her father, Mark Heyer, said at her funeral Wednesday.
Nassau Comptroller George Maragos said that before Saturday “we thought that some of the ugly parts of American history were dead and buried and forgotten — only to rise again.”
The Rev. Malcolm J. Byrd, pastor of Hempstead’s Jackson Memorial AME Zion Church, said he was not shocked. There are places in both Virginia and Long Island, Byrd said, where he does not feel safe driving at night because he is African-American.
“We condemned it,” he said referring to the violence and racism seen in Charlottesville, “but are we dismantling it?“
Nassau Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview), told the gathering: “Justice, liberty and freedom . . . we must continue to fight for these most important principles of our country.”
The event was organized by Bobby K. Kalotee, chairman of the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights.