September 13, 2006

East End Bands Against Violence

As news of Saturday night's late night hate crime in Hampton Bays spreads, East End anti-bias task forces are stepping up to provide young people with a picnic, a plethora of fun activities and a proactive approach toward combating similar acts of violence in the future.

On Sunday, an East End Community Gathering will bring together representatives from all five East End towns in an event geared toward raising awareness.

"It promises to be a lot of fun," said Diane Rulnick of the Southampton Anti-Bias Task Force. "We hope to see a really diversified group."

Louise Wilkinson of the Riverhead Anti-Bias Task Force, working with Rulnick to organize the event, agreed. "It's a celebration of family and friends," she said.

The event will be held at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays from 1 to 6 p.m., and from noon to 3 p.m. if it rains.

Rulnick said in light of a hate crime that took place early Sunday morning at Gilligan's Saloon in Hampton Bays (see page 3), the spotlight is focused on coming together to fight such crimes before they happen. "There is a need after such an incident to recognize that there is prejudice and discrimination that leads too often to violent reactions," said Rulnick.

Community awareness events such as the upcoming picnic are believed to help diminish the potential for future hate crimes. "When you put the word 'unity' back into community, and when you bring the towns together in a fun, family-filled environment each year, people realize they have something to contribute. It raises education and awareness and can be a wonderful thing."

The event was initiated last year by the Southampton ABTF. This time around, Wilkinson and East Hampton representative Jack Perna, Jim Banks of Suffolk County Community College, the Peconic Community Council, and Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate have joined forces on this year's event planning committee.

Besides free food provided compliments of Southampton Town Hall and the Human Resources of the Hamptons, the day will feature entertainment and activities for all ages, including arts and crafts, a jump house, stickball, skateboarding, contests with prizes donated by the Kiwanis Club and an ice cream truck provided by the Lion's Club. Information tables will be set up as well.

Guests are invited to share hot dogs and beverages and asked to bring a potluck dish for five or six. "They can bring their favorite dish or one from each of their own cultural backgrounds," said Rulnick.

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