Greenport Village announced earlier this year that it is a Welcoming Community, committed to diversity, and this Thursday, Porters echoed that commitment at a rally in Mitchell Park.
About sixty people, mostly Greenporters, gathered to hear speakers tell of their commitment to protecting immigrants and people of color, in light of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Va. in mid-August.
The event, organized by Greenport electrician Jim Shaw, was also a response to the fear instilled in members of the community by a truck with a Confederate flag that many recently saw driving around the North Fork.
The event was titled United Front (St.), a reference to the main drag, Front Street, along the village’s harborfront.
Greenport Village Trustee Doug Roberts, who had introduced the Welcoming Community legislation, said the village has come together at other times of national unrest, after the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., and earlier in August after Charlottesville.
“Because of one or two bad actors, our entire Latino population feels like they’re not welcome,” he said. “For everyone, especially the Dreamers, we’ll get through this together.”
Mr. Roberts added that his mother always told him that she believed the situation in the world would be much better if people sang together, before leading the group in singing “America the Beautiful.”
“At the end of every meeting, we agree that we’re doing what’s best for Greenport, what’s best for the community and look out for everyone,” said Mayor George Hubbard. “We have to protect the people who live right here in our own neighborhood. This is a wonderful place.”
“We need moral leadership from each and every one of us,” said Southold Anti-Bias Task Force Co-Chair Sonia Spar, who added that she believes political conversation in this country has broken down due to a fundamental lack of respect.
“If we begin with respect and civility, we’re going in the right direction,” she said. “The violence in Charlottesville has no place in our country. We need to stand together…. Silence encourages that violence.”
Her co-chair, Valerie Shelby, agreed.
“We need to let people know they’re never alone,” she said. “My hope is we all go forward with love, joy and hope in our hearts.”
Porter Ben Burns agreed.
“It is our responsibility to speak out,” he said. “You spend more energy hating. It hurts your soul. People need to know we’re standing beside them. Not in secret, not in the shadows.”