Advocates Rally Minority Voters in Brentwood

More than 30 Hispanic and black community advocates announced plans Thursday to go knocking on doors in Brentwood, Central Islip and other Suffolk County communities with significant minority populations to encourage those citizens to cast their ballots in November.

The Ross Park news conference marked the launch of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, described as a nonpartisan initiative bringing together immigrant and civil rights advocacy groups to engage blacks and Latinos in local politics.

The advocates held bilingual signs that read “Vota por Respeto” and “Vote for Respect” and said they intend to reach out to 20,000 potential voters before Nov. 8.

They said Suffolk was becoming the focus of their efforts because of recent tensions over the county’s growing immigrant population and the effects of the economic downturn on minority neighborhoods.

“We are trying to get people out to vote,” said Daniel Altschuler, the initiative’s coordinator. “Suffolk County became an epicenter of anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric and legislative proposals over the last decade and one of the things that we are trying to do is work with working-class communities of color to assert their electoral muscle to push back against that.”

Lisa Pinkard, an advocate with the Islip Empowerment Project in Central Islip, said she’d like to see the project become a more sustained effort “so that this is a continual movement where we are teaching 365 days of the year about the importance of being involved.”

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