Officials, members of law enforcement, religious leaders and children coalesced in West New York’s Donnelly Park yesterday to remember the victims of the Orlando massacre and the five slain Dallas police officers.
Over 100 people gathered to spread the message of peace, unity and tolerance at the outdoor press conference.
Mayor Felix Roque, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, was the first speaker at the event.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter your religion. We all are a big family. We all work together, we all enjoy together. And we’re here today, just to tell the world, not the country, the world, that West New York is united with everybody because we love our police officers,” Roque stated.
Revenue and Finance Commissioner Susan Colacurcio, a teacher at Memorial High School, talked about how those students can be an inspiration during trying times like these.
Speaking with Hudson County View, Colacurcio said it’s important not to forget about the power of love.
“We basically need to try and reflect and open up some means of communication and show a little bit more compassion and understanding … and patience,” the commissioner said.
“And I think that everyone tonight spoke about the most powerful thing and that’s love. And when you love some one it doesn’t matter, there are no boundaries.”
About a dozen speakers took the podium at the presser, including North Hudson Islamic Educational Center Director Yousef Abdallah.
“The best thing we can share with this young generation is how can we have a safe community? By promoting peace. By promoting compassion. And by denouncing hate,” he said.
“Any individuals who act, or who carry any act of hate, they don’t carry it in the name of their religion. Any religion, it doesn’t matter what it is. They carry it in their own name, the name of the hatred. Those hateful people who don’t have any space, any room for love or compassion, they carry any cowardly act in that name.”
After the program concluded, West New York Police Director Robert Antolos reflected on some of the issues leading to different degrees of anti-police rhetoric nationwide.
“Violence doesn’t answer violence. And we need to realize that the nation has a problem with racism. We need to realize the nation has a problem with gun violence and their needs to be a way where we as a nation [can overcome] and our leaders need to address that,” he told Hudson County View.
Furthermore, Antolos’ last words at the podium may have been the best summation of his thoughts on this subject.
“In West New York, all lives matter,” he said.
Additionally, the dozens of children on hand participated in the event by meeting and greeting police officers from West New York, Guttenberg and North Bergen before laying flowers on the park site where 49 trees were planted in memory of the Orlando massacre victims.