Drivers heading east on Route 27 this week may have noticed that Southampton’s resident protester, Tom Wedell, has been back in action since Monday at the busy intersection in front of 7-Eleven—and he’s none too happy.
It’s been months since anyone has seen Wedell carrying his usual signs protesting the day laborers who work out of an area adjacent to the 7-Eleven parking lot in Southampton each day. The well-recognized protester charges that the Hispanic day laborers are working illegally and damaging any chance for his construction business to thrive on the East End. So each day he returns to the spot waving an American flag and signs with messages, including, “Deport Illegals” and “When They Jumped The Fence They Broke The Law.”
But Wedell had been gone a long time. Back in March, Dan’s Papers published an article asking, “Where are you, Tom Wedell?” and playfully suggested what he may have been doing during this extended time away. The story also mentioned that some believe Wedell is paid for his time beneath those controversial signs.
He continues to deny these allegations. “Nobody pays me to be here,” Wedell said, clearly frustrated on Tuesday morning. “I’ve got to live too,” he said, explaining that a job had kept him from protesting during the months he’d been gone. “I’ve got kids,” Wedell said, admitting that he’s been behind on his rent and trying to make ends meet. “Ten years I’ve lost my income because of these guys,” he said, pointing in the direction of the day laborers near 7-Eleven. “I’ve been black-balled out here.”
Wedell said his protests have made it impossible for him to get work in the Hamptons. “This is liberal land,” he said. “What am I to do? I did construction out here until I was put out of business.”
As for the Dan’s Papers article, Wedell had this to say: “I’ve got a sign made for Danny, I just haven’t been over there yet.”