Vigil Against Violence in Jackson Heights, August 19,6.30 P.M.

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Date/Time: 19/08/2003 12:00 am

Vigil Against Violence in Jackson Heights, August 19,
6.30 P.M.
At least twenty-five immigrant rights, social justice
and civil liberties organizations met in Jackson
Heights and condemned last Sunday’s racially biased
attack on a South Asian Sikh family. These groups
called on all citizens and non-citizens to come
together and help stop these hate crimes that have
been on the rise since the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001.
According to the various Sikh organizations present
the meeting, three men attacked the Woodside family
and a relative of Surinder Singh, 41, a taxi driver,
when they were walking home on Sunday night. The
victims said they were beaten, spat on and asked,
Laden family, go back to your country.” The
perpetrators are still at large.
The groups plan to hold a peace vigil on Tuesday,
August 19 in front of P.S. 69 (77th Street and 37th
Avenue) in Jackson Heights at 6.30 P.M. and to meet
with officials at the NYPD and the District
office to strengthen enforcement and prosecution of
bias crimes and discourage similar attacks on Muslim
and South Asian immigrants of New York.
“We want to make sure that anyone who commits a bias
attack is charged to the fullest extent of the law,”
said Partha Banerjee, Community Organizer of the New
Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). “The Violence
Against Vigil – organized by all immigrant rights,
peace and justice groups – will carry that message
The groups say they plan to pressure city lawmakers
especially those representing large immigrant
community districts to take stronger positions on
passing pending bills such as Access Without Fear
(Intro. 326) that provides confidentiality to city’s
new immigrants. At the meeting, demands were also
to repeal the USA Patriot Act – the anti-terrorism
passed by Congress immediately after 9/11 – which the
groups believe creates a climate that encourages bias
“We are pointing our finger not only at the ignorant
people who are responsible for those vicious attacks
but we’re also pointing our finger to the officials
responsible for misguided policies that help foster
environment where these type of things happen,” said
Brian Pu-folkes, executive director of NICE.
A number of speakers from the attending groups shared
their post-9/11 views and experiences. Among them,
Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) reported a recent
case where federal authorities have arrested – on
minor immigration violation – the husband of an
8-month-pregnant Muslim woman. The group demanded an
immediate humanitarian parole.
All the speakers emphasized on the importance of
building coalition and unity among the immigrant
rights and social justice groups across the city.
NICE took an extra step to contact the Sikh community
in the city and tried to reach out to the victim
family through the various gurdwaras and national
organizations. Lawyers from the city’s civil rights
organizations also contacted the group and extended
their support for the family. In spite of the
unsettling incident, Singh family was keeping in good
health and spirit.