The Episcopal bishop of Long Island on Wednesday joined a chorus of critics calling for Suffolk Republicans to cancel a fundraising event featuring Donald Trump near the site where Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero was killed in a hate crime in 2008.
At the same time, immigrant groups warned that the event at the Emporium nightclub and concert venue Thursday would incite further violence against Latinos and strengthen the forces of bigotry and racism.
Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island issued an open letter denouncing the event.
“It is my job to oppose evil, ignorance, and sin,” Provenzano wrote in the letter. “This planned ‘political event’ in Patchogue meets all three criteria. Either the organizers are ignorant of the days when there appeared to be open season on immigrants — especially day workers and their families — or the entire event is designed to reignite the hatred that existed and use it for political gain.”
Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle, who did not return a call for comment Wednesday, said earlier in the week that immigrant advocates are “politicizing tragedy” without considering other sides.
The Suffolk GOP has endorsed Trump to become the Republican candidate for president. New York’s primary is Tuesday.
Lucero, 37, was stabbed to death on Nov. 8, 2008 after he was attacked by a group of teens seeking to assault Hispanic immigrants.
Jeffrey Conroy, then 17, is serving a 25-year prison sentence for first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime, while the six others who took part in the attack were convicted on a host of assault-related charges.
On Wednesday, immigrant advocates gathered in front of the Emporium — a short distance from where Lucero was killed — to call on Republican leaders to cancel the event, the latest in a series of protests against it this week.
“We are going to see people who want to harvest votes from hatred come here and do a fundraiser three blocks away from where a gang of kids inspired by similar rhetoric took the life of an immigrant working man,” said Patrick Young of the Manhattan-based New York State Immigrant Action Fund advocacy group and a special professor of immigrant law at Hofstra University’s law school. “It brings hatred back into this community.”
Eliana Fernandez, a Patchogue resident and organizer for the immigrant-advocacy group Make the Road New York, based in Brooklyn, said at the news conference that the Trump event “promises to reopen a devastating wound in a community torn apart by violence.”
If Republicans do not cancel the fundraiser, “our community will show up strong and loud” in protest, she said.