Unity Town Hall in Riverhead Confronts Hate in the Community

Image courtesy of Riverhead Local

On Sunday, March 26th over 150 people gathered in the Hilton Garden Inn in Riverhead to discuss pressing issues in the community. Hosted by Riverhead’s Anti-Bias Task Force, the panel included Juli Grey-Owens of the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition, Rabbi Michael Roscoe of Temple Israel in Riverhead, Leslie Wright of the Riverhead Planned Parenthood, and Lisa Votino-Tarrant of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

Many of the concerns revolved around hate speech and discrimination in the community. Fizza Idrees-Iqbal, a Muslim physician’s assistant, told the crowd she worried for her safety and that of her community, “Many of us, especially women who wear the head covering, face discrimination. There are days when I don’t have the energy to go to the grocery store and see the stares.”

A undocumented Guatemalan resident, who did not want to be identified by name, expressed his fears about being deported despite the fact that America was his home, having lived here since he was 4 years old.

Southold Town Councilman James Dinizio attended the meeting as a participant; “I wanted to hear what they had to say,” Dinizio told Riverhead Local. While Councilman Dinizio is an outspoken supporter of President Trump, he agrees that this dialogue on hate in the community was necessary: “There’s nothing I heard that I don’t agree with. Now it comes to tactics. How do you accomplish these things?”

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Sara Roncero-Menendez is the Online Editor for Long Island Wins. Prior to joining the Long Island Wins team, she graduate from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and worked as a reporter for publications like Mashable, The Huffington Post, and PSFK. She became involved in immigration issues and advocacy while working towards her Masters degree at The University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign. After joining the Graduate Employee Organization Local 6300, she worked on helping international and undocumented students work with the administration to get fair financial aid and fellowship opportunities. Sara also works on issues of representation in mass media, including film and television, and works on media reviews and podcast.

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