Across Long Island, people of all walks of life are facing a civil rights crisis. A slew of recent laws have sent a disturbing message to immigrants and people of color: You are not welcome here. This intolerant sentiment has no place in our communities.
Suffolk County has filed a lawsuit seeking to ban 37 residents from public areas in Wyandanch. The county alleges the defendants are gang members. All of them are young, black men. Citing a list of constitutional violations, including infringements of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the New York Civil Liberties Union has filed an amicus brief opposing the county’s lawsuit.
Two years ago, the Town of Oyster Bay passed an ordinance that criminalized standing on a public sidewalk and looking for work—a clear violation of the First Amendment. The law targets a specific group of Latino day laborers who make their living soliciting work on the roadsides in Locust Valley. In 2010, the NYCLU filed suit against the town citing free speech and equal protection violations.
People of color routinely face discrimination while searching for housing. People who belong to ethnic minorities face higher unemployment rates than their white counterparts, yet policymakers are still putting up fences between workers and jobs. On a daily basis, Long Island becomes more racially segregated as minorities find fewer and fewer places they feel welcome, and the situation will continue to spiral out of control unless we unite to do something about it.
As a part of our year-long campaign to bring non-traditional allies into immigrants’ rights advocacy, we’re reaching out to local communities of color. This Monday, November 7, we’re hosting a workshop for advocates of racial justice and immigrants’ rights at Suffolk County Community College’s Grant Campus in Brentwood.
The NYCLU, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, ERASE Racism, FOCUS at SCCC, the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition, Empire Justice Center, and Long Island Wins are sponsoring the event.
Community advocates can support each other in order to stand up against terrible public policies. Come out to Brentwood and help us build an important bridge in civil rights advocacy.
Advocating Across Borders:
The Next Step in the Civil Rights Movement
November 7 at 6:30pm
Suffolk County Community College
Grant Campus in Brentwood
Latino Justice PRLDEF
Image courtesy of The COM Library via Flickr.