Springtime for the "Minutemen"

Mayor Mark Epley of Southampton should be congratulated for coming out strongly in favor of a just solution to the problems posed by the open - air shape up site in the Village. Let's hope that the non-profit group planning for a hiring center, the Mayor and Town officials including the police can cooperate to make a hiring center a reality - sooner rather than later.

The few local members of a hate group known as the Minutemen have threatened the Mayor by promising to demonstrate at the local shape-up site if public funds are used for the much needed hiring center.

Public funds should not be required for such a facility. There are foundations whose mission includes funding for this type of project. Of the hundreds of worker hiring centers in the US there are several on Long Island, among them the Workplace Project in Hempstead and the affiliated Work Link Center in Freeport. These could not function without cooperation of local authorities but it should not be necessary for those authorities to fund them.

It was disturbing to read in the Southampton Press that the police are considering installing surveillance cameras at the present shape up site. Singling out the day laborers as criminals requiring police surveillance reflects the bias of our law enforcement. The workers have no criminal intent, although some have broken one law in order for their families to survive.

Surveillance cameras would most likely scare away employers looking for workers as it did when photos were taken in East Hampton's railroad station. The workers simply moved to other locations in East Hampton and Southampton.

Perhaps more importantly, setting up surveillance cameras in a public space is a technique of totalitarian regimes. It should have no place in a democratic society.