The pastor who presided at the funeral of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero has “strongly requested” that the Suffolk Republican Party move its planned fundraiser featuring Donald Trump, saying the event would create “clear and present danger” to the Patchogue community.
“Agree with him or not, Donald Trump is an advocate of building walls; the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and the banning of Muslims from entering the country,” said the Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter of the Congregational Church of Patchogue.
“I am a strong advocate of free speech, but I am also a strong advocate of not fanning fear, hate and potential violence,” Wolter said. He asked the county GOP and its chairman, John Jay LaValle, to “rescind their gala with Mr. Trump — or at least move it to a venue or community with less of a hate crime circus atmosphere and history.”
Wolter made the plea in a letter, and said he will organize a silent vigil at the church before the fundraiser headlined by Trump, a Republican presidential candidate, on April 14 at the Emporium, a local rock club.
The club is up the street from where Lucero was stabbed to death on Nov. 9, 2008, by Jeffrey Conroy, one of seven teens who attacked him.
A spokesman for the Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle declined to comment on the letter. However, party officials say the event at the Emporium, which officials say has a capacity of more than 1,200, was “nearly sold out.” Tickets cost $150.
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said, “it would be a wonderful thing” if the GOP moved the event, but he has not asked the party to change the location. Pontieri, a Democrat, said his “only concern is public safety.”
Tim Sini, Suffolk County police commissioner, said the department “is aware of the event and we will be working with the Secret Service to put in place the necessary public safety measures.”
Wolter said he is concerned about the site of the fundraiser because it lacks enough room for protesters with differing views to remain separate.
He said the silent vigil at the church three blocks away will be peaceful.
“Silence and nonviolence are powerful and effective weapons for which you do not need a permit to carry, conceal or reveal,” said Wolter.