The COPS Office Partners With “Not In Our Town: Light In the Darkness” Community Engagement Campaign

photo of Patchogue, NY residents
Patchogue, NY residents
Photo Credit: Jackson Hill Photography

Paul Pontieri, Joselo Lucero and Galen Kirkland, Commissioner for New York State Division of Human Rights, with Patchogue residents.

Joselo Lucero, brother of Marcelo Lucero speaking into a megaphone to citizens
Joselo Lucero, brother of Marcelo Lucero

Joselo Lucero had followed his older brother, Marcelo, from their hometown in Ecuador to the Village of Patchogue. Shocked by his brother's murder, Joselo soon called out for justice for his brother and brought attention to the problem of anti-immigrant violence in the area. Thrust into the public eye after his brother's death, Joselo urges the town to come together so that Marcelo's death will not have been in vain.

photo of Lola Quesada, Suffolk County Police Officer speaking to a man
Lola Quesada, Suffolk County Police Officer
Photo credit: Jackson Hill Photography

After Marcelo Lucero's murder, officer Lola Quesada begins a foot patrol in the village. Also of Ecuadorian descent, Quesada attends meetings and talk shows to reassure the area's immigrant community that they need not fear reporting hate incidents to the police. She also teaches essential Spanish to police recruits. Aristides Mojica, a newly-appointed police captain, calls for a paradigm shift in policing to protect all residents.

photo of Patchogue Medford High School students with red t-shirts on
Patchogue Medford High School students

The new PBS documentary special, “Not in Our Town: Light In The Darkness,” tells the story of a town joining together to take action after the hate crime killing of a local immigrant devastates the community. In conjunction with the September 21 national PBS broadcast, local communities are invited to host free public screenings and discussions of the program during Not In Our Town National Week of Action, September 18–24, and beyond. The Department of Justice COPS office is partnering with the campaign to help spread this positive model of police–community partnerships.

The PBS broadcast of “Not in Our Town: Light In The Darkness” and National Week of Action kick off a multi-year campaign promoting safe, inclusive communities.

Law enforcement plays a pivotal role in preventing and responding to hate crimes, healing divisions, and promoting safer communities. This is an opportunity for police to collaborate with community partners on a public event that will help strengthen relationships, initiate conversations about local threats, and provide a forum to introduce new solutions.

Here are some of the ways law enforcement leaders can participate:

  • Request a free “Not In Our Town: Light In The Darkness” DVD, screening kit, and discussion guide, and collaborate with community partners to host a public screening event during Not In Our Town Week of Action, or later.
  • Review the list of additional community activity ideas for Not In Our Town Week of Action, and download free resources you can use during the week and beyond.
  • Visit NIOT.org for reports from cities and towns involved in the campaign, an interactive map of local action, and resources you can use in your community—and post details about how you are working with community partners in your own town.

For complete project details and to request materials, please visit NIOT.org/LightInTheDarkness.

More About the Film
In 2008, a series of attacks against Latino residents of Patchogue, New York, culminated in 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 Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, the victim’s brother, Joselo Lucero, and diverse community residents as they address the underlying causes of the violence, heal divisions, and begin taking steps to ensure everyone in their village will be safe and respected. In response to the murder, the Suffolk County Police Department assigned two Spanish-speaking officers to Patchogue to conduct outreach to the frightened Latino immigrant community, while local officers actively participated in community-wide dialogues and other activities. The Patchogue story demonstrates that hate is a community challenge requiring active partnerships between law enforcement, civic leaders, local organizations, and residents. Learn more and watch the film trailer at NIOT.org/LightInTheDarkness.

Not In Our Town: Stop Hate. Together.
Not In Our Town highlights stories of communities taking positive action to fight intolerance. Not In Our Town was launched in 1995 with a PBS film about people taking action in Billings, Montana, and has grown to an exciting national movement of people across the country taking action against hate and standing together for safe, inclusive communities. Visit NIOT.org for more information.

“Not In Our Town: Light In The Darkness” was produced by The Working Group. Major support for this program is provided by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust.

Light in the Darkness, What would you do if one of your neighbors was killed in a hate crime?

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