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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Roosevelt Island Sikh Resident Describes Assault Incident Being Investigated By NYPD Hate Crime Task Force In Detail At Press Conference Today - He Asks Teenage Attackers To Turn Themselves In To Police And Start Healing Process

 Image From Sikh Coalition Press Conference Today ( Dr Batra On Right)

Reported last Friday on an assault that took place near the Blackwell Park playground

Image Of Blackwell Plaza From Google Maps

against a Roosevelt Island Sikh resident, Dr. Jaspreet Singh Batra, that is being investigated by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force. Earlier today, Dr. Batra participated in a press conference, organized by the Sikh Coalition, explaining in greater detail the circumstances surrounding his assault. According to Dr. Batra:
On August 7th, as I was walking with my mother for dinner to celebrate her birthday, I was attacked by a group of young people on Roosevelt Island. They called us “Osama bin Laden” and told us to “go back to your country.” One of them punched me in the face. Another one punched me in the back of the neck. I tried to pursue them but had to call the police and go the hospital. My family and I always deplored hate crimes from a distance. Ever since August 7th, we now had to experience not just the pain inflicted from such a crime but also have to bear the agony during the healing process.

Thankfully, we found much needed support from family, friends and from citizens of this country far and near. Unfortunately, I was surrounded by hatred during the incident but now we are surrounded by positive energy.

As much as the healing process is painful, it also gave us the time to reflect on certain things:
  1. How come young minds that have so much to learn and explore have become the breeding grounds of hatred? Should we hold these teenagers accountable or their parents, or the education system here in New York City, which has failed them and as a result has failed us?
  2. My mother and I were called “Osama bin Laden.” Is the “O” word the new “N” word?
  3. Ever since 9/11 happened, the whole world changed forever. Sikhs became victims of hate crime in increasing numbers. Despite so many resources being channeled towards diversity awareness campaigns, Sikhs are still being attacked. We need more proactive strategies at all levels of society to end this bigotry.
  4. Policy makers need to come up with a plan to develop and implement a mandatory diversity education program in schools and colleges that teaches young people about the value of all faiths and ethnicities. That's the right time to catch these young minds and offer them the opportunity to explore the beauty that lies in diversity
  5. Not taking any action is a recipe for disaster and an invitation for further abuse/crime. I look for justice but not for vengeance. If these young people or their parents come forward and accept their fault, we can let the healing begin and take a positive approach to involve them in the community and pass a message of peace and tolerance to society at large.
Thank you.
Here's Dr Batra's statement from today's press conference

and a more detailed explanation of the incident including:
  • Dr. Batra reporting that Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department video surveillance cameras were working in the area of the attack,
  • parents with their children were in the Blackwell Park playground area during the attack. Dr Batra was not sure if they saw the incident,
  • one young woman playing at the basketball court came forward to try and stop the teenagers from attacking him,
  • there were witnesses at the basketball court who should have been able to see the attack and
  • the incident lasted about 10 minutes

The Sikh coalition issued this statement at today's press conference:
Three Sikh men—all violently attacked because of their turbans in separate New York City hate crimes—today called on government and police leaders to enact policy reforms to address violence and discrimination against minority communities in New York City.

At a press conference organized by the Sikh Coalition, Dr. Jaspreet Singh Batra, a medical scientist, recounted how he was attacked and injured last Thursday on Roosevelt Island. Speaking via video because of the seriousness of his injuries, Sandeep Singh, a business owner and father, deemed his slow recovery a “miracle” after being run over and dragged by a driver in a pick-up truck on a public street in Queens late last month. Both assaults, which were accompanied by racial and religious slurs, occurred almost one year after Dr. Prabhjot Singh was attacked in Harlem. Dr. Singh joined the men in solidarity.

“This is not a Sikh problem,” said Dr. Prabhjot Singh. “This is a human problem, a New York City problem, and an American problem about how we take responsibility for each other. I hope that Mayor De Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton will follow through on meeting with us to find a productive way forward. We can't afford to be satisfied with how things were.”

According to surveys by the Sikh Coalition, violence and discrimination affect Sikhs of all ages. According to one report, 60 percent of Sikh children in New York City have experienced bullying and harassment because of their religion, and 9 percent of Sikh adults have been physically assaulted because of their religion since 9/11. Sikh advocates believe that the New York Police Department (NYPD) contributes to the problem by refusing to hire turbaned Sikhs who wish to serve as police officers, and the Sikh Coalition has called on government officials to create a task force to systematically address hate violence and discrimination against all communities in New York City.

“Sikhs are repeatedly attacked because of the way we look, and the NYPD discriminates against us because of the way we look,” said Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy for the Sikh Coalition. “How can we expect the New York City government to prevent bias attacks against Sikhs when the government itself is biased against Sikhs? We need real reform, and we need it now.”
The statements from all press conference participants are available at the Sikh coalition web site. Will have more on today's press conference later and here's post from last Friday about the incident.


APS said...

What a brave man, this is an issue that cannot be swept aside, RIOC needs to make these kids accountable, we cannot put blame on parents, schools, although that may play a role, unless they are personally accountable for their actions, they will never have the opportunity to learn or grow into responsible adults. This whole thing is deplorable!