Trump event in Patchogue prompts call for venue change

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a rally in Bethpage, Long Island, New York on April 6, 2016.

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a rally in Bethpage, Long Island, New York on April 6, 2016. (4/9/16)

PATCHOGUE - A planned Donald Trump appearance on Thursday in Patchogue is sparking anger due to the venue's proximity to the spot where an immigrant was stabbed to death.

The Republican presidential candidate and business mogul will be a guest speaker at a fundraising dinner for the Suffolk Republican Committee on Thursday. The event is being held at the Emporium in Patchogue, steps away from where Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death in 2008.

The New York Times ran an editorial this weekend titled, "Mr. Trump Reopens the Wounds of a Hate Crime." It called the venue a "wretched development" and a "disgraceful provocation."

Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, the pastor at the Congregational Church of Patchogue, says it could become a dangerous situation in light of Trump's comments on immigration and border control.

"A hate-crime murder, on the same street as Donald Trump talking about mass deportation of immigrants - in a club that has a history of violence. What were you thinking trying to bring that together?" Wolter says.

Suffolk Republican Committee Chairman John Jay LaValle invited Trump to speak at the event. He says it's not insensitive.  "The reality is that neither Donald Trump, or I, or any of my 1,000 committee members support hate crimes, murder, or any crime for that matter. The reality is illegal immigration is a crime, and for Donald Trump to speak straight and say it's wrong-- he's right," LaValle says.

Wolter argues that while he's an advocate of free speech, he believes the venue is inappropriate. If it's not changed, Wolter says he'll hold a silent vigil at the church on the day of Trump's appearance.

Asked if the venue would be changed, LaValle said, "Absolutely not... It's a great venue, Patchogue is a great place and we're proud to have Donald Trump here."

As News 12 has reported, thousands of supporters turned out for Donald Trump's appearance this week at Grumman Studios in Bethpage. Protesters were outside the event as well, and two were arrested.

Suffolk police say they will be working with the Secret Service to put in place the necessary public safety measures for the Patchogue event.

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