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Forum on gang violence turns into forum against Levy

At a community meeting on the outbreak of

At a community meeting on the outbreak of gang violence in Brentwood and Central Islip, Clara Fiallo, 40, of Brentwood, spoke about creating a law to make gang membership illegal. Fiallo's son, David Sandler, 20, was shot dead. Photo Credit: Newsday / Mahala Gaylord

A forum on gang violence in Brentwood and Central Islip erupted into a rally against Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy last night, as residents demanded to know why he had not come to hear their concerns in person a second time.

Last night's meeting, at Central Islip High School, was the second forum this month hosted by Suffolk Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Brentwood) on escalating violence in the neighboring communities, responsible for nine deaths last year and five since January.

Though Levy's police commissioner, Richard Dormer, made presentations at both gatherings, Levy attended neither. One of Levy's deputies, Ed Dumas, did attend and complained after the forum that his boss received a flier for the meeting but was not consulted on the date and time.

"I think the anger expressed here tonight, it's a necessary part of what's happening here," Dumas said. "It's good that the community is angry. We're angry, too."

During the meeting, the audience of about 400, whistling and cheering, jumped to its feet in agreement when Amparo Sadler, 57, a Central Islip civic leader, said, "I'd like to know where Steve Levy is tonight. Maybe because he wants to become governor? He just lost my vote."

Montano shouted over the applause: "If Steve Levy won't come here, then we're gonna go there!" He and Assemb. Philip Ramos (D-Brentwood) invited the crowd to join them 4 p.m. Monday at the county's H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge.

Levy is expected to announce Friday that he is running for governor.

Dumas said Levy will host his own public forum on gang violence March 29. He said the location had not been determined.

The recent spate of attacks in Brentwood and Central Islip has spurred community members to demand more resources. Last night the crowd railed against Levy for hiring just 70 of the 200 police officers they had funded with a 3 percent property tax increase.

"What is he doing with the rest of the money?" asked Debbie Cavanagh, president of the Central Islip Coalition.

Speakers also proposed solutions to the violence that has left many afraid to leave their homes. Boy Scout leaders encouraged parents to get involved. A new civic group invited the audience to attend a Neighborhood Watch training session Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Brentwood public library.

And a grieving mother made a tearful pitch for a tougher law on gangs. "You should not wait for the next victim. The next child may be your child," said Clara Fiallo, 40, of Brentwood, whose son David Sandler, 20, was shot dead last month in what relatives described as a gang feud.

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