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Organizer of Aug. 13 rally seeks village permit for ‘unity celebration’ next month

Samantha Payne-Merket speaks out at a rally against hate in Greenport Aug. 13. Photo: Denise Civiletti

An organizer of the Aug. 13 rally against hate held in Mitchell Park is planning a unity event there in two weeks.

Greenport resident Jim Shaw is organizing a gathering on Thursday, Sept. 7. Shaw hopes with more lead time and a better opportunity to publicize it, the second event will attract more than the approximately 100 people who showed up last Sunday.

That rally was the brainchild of Shaw’s friend, Christine McFall of Cutchogue, who woke up Sunday morning feeling despondent after the violence in Charlottesville the day before. McFall saw a call on Facebook to march against hatred in local communities and decided to take up the cause by holding a rally that evening in Mitchell Park. She called Shaw, who jumped on the idea and worked all afternoon to spread the word.

Jim Shaw of Greenport speaking at the Aug. 13 rally he helped organize. Photo: Denise Civiletti

“It’s going to be a sunset gathering for all residents to come together to celebrate unity,” Shaw said in an interview this week. It will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

“It’s going to be a community effort,” Shaw said. Like last week’s rally, the gathering will be informal and people will be able to speak extemporaneously.

“I’m doing this because there’s just so much bad stuff in the news these days,” Shaw said. “People are very afraid. I feel it’s good to create a space where people can come together in a peaceful and positive way and feel that they’re not alone,” he said.

Shaw said he plans to invite all the clergy in town, local officials and the Southold Anti-Bias Task Force.

He filed a public assembly permit application with the village clerk this week. Clerk Sylvia Pirillo told the village board at Thursday’s work session a resolution on the application would be added to next week’s meeting agenda.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.