By Ben Kava
On Sunday, large crowds gathered in Sag Harbor to participate in the town’s second annual Interdependence Walk.
Organized by the Organizacion Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island (OLA), the Shinnecock Nation, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork and other individual members of the community, the walk was intended to show solidarity for families currently separated at the U.S. southern border and demonstrate the importance of our interdependence on one another as a community, according to Frances Sacks, who works for OLA.
The event began with a traditional Shinnecock prayer. Minerva Perez, executive director of OLA, and Rabbi Dan Geffen, of the Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, also offered comments while demonstrators were gathered at the windmill, prior to walking through the village.
“It is our common responsibility to protect,” Mr. Geffen said in an interview on Sunday. “Even though it may seem trite to march, moments in history start like this.”
Participants marched through Sag Harbor’s Main Street wielding signs with messages of “We are all immigrants,” and “Hate has no home here,” while also uniting in chants of “Education, not deportation.” The march completed a loop around the village before reconvening at the windmill.
And although signs and chants carried similar messages, demonstrators themselves hailed from different facets of the extended East End community.
Francesca Rheannon of East Hampton is a member of the Jewish community. Ms. Rheannon, whose father was Dutch, remembers her father telling her stories of how Jewish people were “taken out of Amsterdam like fish in a net,” during World War II and attributed the importance of participating in the Interdependence Walk to not letting a similar situation arise again. “What I’m seeing is something I never thought I would see in the U.S.,” she said. “We do have concentration camps on the border.”
Jon Lopez of Sag Harbor said that the Interdependence Walk holds personal importance to him. Mr. Lopez is a first-generation American. Both of his parents immigrated to the United States from the small town of Coyula, Mexico, when they were teenagers—his Dad when he was 15, and his Mom when she was 16. Mr. Lopez explained that many Mexican immigrants living in East Hampton and Sag Harbor are from the same town in Mexico as his parents and stressed the importance of having a network of support for those community members.
“I personally feel like all members of the community on the South Fork should recognize that the Latino population is expanding every year, some of the population is undocumented and the process of legalization is very difficult,” Mr. Lopez said. “This is where they live, this is where they work, this is where they’re raising their family—and so to acknowledge them as fellow community members is extremely important,” he said.
Mr. Lopez, who now attends Georgetown University on a full scholarship, attributes much of his success to his parents. “For my family, it all started with an undocumented man and an undocumented woman,” he said.
The walk on Sunday was not one of protest, but rather one of solidarity, stressed Ms. Sacks. The event was a way “to notify and keep the non-Latino community aware, so there’s not such a big divide,” she said.
Ella Engel-Snow, one of the organizers of the event and a Sagaponack resident, said afterwards that she thought the walk “went beautifully.”
“It brought together all different parts of the community and showed we’re ready to be together in support of one another,” she said.
In a pre-walk speech, Mr. Geffen offered a declaration emblematic of the event at large: “Justice cannot exist in the world unless it exists for every single human being under the sun,” he said.