Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness
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Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness is a one-hour documentary about a town coming together to take action after anti-immigrant violence devastates the community. In 2008, a series of attacks against Latino residents of Patchogue, New York culminate with the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who had lived in the Long Island village for 13 years.
Over a two-year period, the story follows Mayor Paul Pontieri, the victim’s brother Joselo Lucero, and Patchogue residents as they address the root causes of the violence, heal divisions, and take steps to ensure that everyone in their village will be safe and respected.
In addition to the national broadcast, viewers can follow the case and learn more about the civil suits, find out more about how libraries got involved and learn about reporting hate crimes to local law enforcement.
Meet the four Patchogue residents profiled in the film who take action to change their community.
Paul Pontieri, Mayor of Patchogue
Paul Pontieri is jolted into action as he meets with Latino residents to learn how to make everyone in the community feel safe. Four months after Marcelo Lucero’s murder, the mayor leads the Patchogue Board of Trustees to pass a resolution stating that “thoughtful discourse can only occur in an environment free of hatred and vilification” and that anti-immigrant rhetoric not only harms targeted groups but “our entire social fabric.”
Joselo Lucero, brother of Marcelo Lucero
Joselo Lucero followed his older brother, Marcelo, from their hometown in Ecuador to the Village of Patchogue. Shocked by his brother’s murder, Joselo calls for justice, an end to hatred and brings attention to anti-immigrant violence in Suffolk County. Thrust into a public role as a voice for change, Joselo urges people to come together so that a tragedy like his brother’s death never happens again.
Lola Quesada, Suffolk County Police Officer
After Marcelo Lucero’s murder, the Suffolk County Police Department assigned two Spanish-speaking officers to Patchogue, including Officer Lola Quesada. Lola also attends public meetings as a liaison between the immigrant community and the police. As community liaison, Lola appears on talk radio to inform immigrants about their rights and encourage them to report hate attacks to police. She also teaches essential Spanish to police recruits.
Gilda Ramos, Librarian Assistant at Patchogue-Medford Library
A week before Marcelo Lucero’s murder, librarian assistant Gilda Ramos and librarian Jean Kaleda learned that people were afraid to attend evening ESL classes at the library for fear of being attacked at night. Kaleda and Ramos call for community meetings and create a safe space at the library for the community to heal after the murder. Gilda Ramos also translates when conversations between Patchogue’s Spanish-speaking residents and their neighbors was crucial.
For more than 15 years, Not In Our Town has grown from a PBS documentary into a national effort to connect people working together to take action against hate and create safe, inclusive communities. We’re always on the lookout for new stories of people uniting to stop hate. Send the Not In Our Town network your experiences by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about the documentary at PBS.org