With towns across Suffolk County battling a worsening crisis of opioid addiction, two local organizations are planning a candlelight vigil in Grangebel Park Sunday night for the victims of the crisis and their families.
Local chapters of Redneck Revolt and the People’s Congress organized the vigil for those suffering from addiction and the families of those affected by the opioid epidemic, according to Kevin Mulé, founding member of Suffolk County Redneck Revolt.
“We have a lot of members who have either lost loved ones or who are former addicts and are recovering,” Mulé said. “This is close to a lot of folks’ hearts.”
Almost 500 people died from opioid overdoes in 2016, according to a Newsday report, a number that continues to rise with each year. Of all 62 counties in New York State, Suffolk County has reported the highest number of opioid-related deaths since 2009.
“We decided to initiate this vigil as a gesture of hope for people who have been suffering and for the families of the victims and people who are recovering,” Mulé said.
The vigil will take place in Grangebel Park Sunday night from 5 to 7 p.m. The event will feature several speakers, followed by an opportunity for families and other victims of the crisis to speak about their experiences.
“We want to listen to the people who come and hear about their experiences,” Mulé said.
Redneck Revolt is a national organization of political activists from working-class backgrounds. The Suffolk County chapter was just recently founded in July and currently consists of about a dozen young people, mostly in their 20s, who want to make a difference in their communities.
“A lot of us were previously apathetic or passive in regards to politics,” Mulé said. “But there is this growing normalization of a dangerous, sometimes explicitly racist rhetoric that made us feel like we needed to do something.”
The candlelight vigil is the group’s second initiative since its founding in July. Its first project was a backyard garden this summer, where group members grew produce that was then donated to Long Island Food Not Bombs.
“We didn’t know what to do, just that we wanted to help,” Mulé said. “For us, political activism and giving back to our communities are one and the same.”