News and Press Releases

Public Screening and Discussion of PBS Documentary Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, FBI Birmingham Citizen’s Academy Alumni Association and the Birmingham International Center will host a public screening and discussion of a new PBS documentary examining a New York town’s response after a 2008 hate-crime killing devastated the community, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley.

Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness profiles the Long Island community of Patchogue, N.Y., standing together to take action after a series of attacks by seven local teenagers against Latino residents of the town ended with the murder of 37-year-old Marcelo Lucero. Lucero was an Ecuadorian immigrant who had lived in Patchogue for 13 years.

The public screening and discussion in Birmingham will be Sept. 21, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the Birmingham International Center, 1728 Fifth Ave. North. Freddy Rubio, a lawyer and FBI Citizen’s Academy alumnus, will moderate the discussion. Tickets to the event are free, but advance registration is required. Register through the FBICAAA website: http://fbicaaa-bham.org/NOIT.aspx.

The PBS national broadcast of Light in the Darkness is Sept. 21. The film is the centerpiece of Not In Our Town’s National Week of Action from Sunday through Sept. 24. The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) is partnering with the campaign to encourage public events and discussions on hate-crime prevention.

“The public presentation of this documentary is a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together to address issues of intolerance, and to witness positive models of police-community partnerships that can address such issues and make communities safer,” Vance said.

“The importance of public cooperation with law enforcement cannot be emphasized enough,” Maley said. “Hate crimes are the top priority within the FBI’s civil rights program and we are committed to protecting the civil rights of all citizens. Working together, we must address hate when it surfaces, identify it, report it, investigate and prosecute crimes related to it, and root it out,” he said.

The documentary, filmed over a two-year period, follows Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, the victim’s brother Joselo Lucero, diverse community leaders, residents and students as they openly address the underlying causes of the violence, work to heal division and initiate ongoing action 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, and 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.

Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness was directed by Patrice O’Neill and produced by The Working Group. The group’s mission is to highlight stories of communities taking positive action to fight intolerance. Not In Our Town is a project of The Working Group, and Light in the Darkness is the third PBS special in that project.

Not In Our Town was launched in 1995 with the national PBS special Not In Our Town, which followed the citizens of Billings, Montana, as they joined forces to resist bigotry in their town. Not In Our Town II, a follow-up broadcast, aired in 1996 and showed how communities adapted the experience from Billings to counteract local hate violence. Over the past 15 years, Not In Our Town has grown from a PBS documentary into a national effort to connect people who are working together to take action against hate and create safe, inclusive communities.

For more information on the film, or to view a trailer, visit: http://www.niot.org/LightInTheDarkness.

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