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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-20-03-2007-00.htm
Press Release: 20th March 2007, 7th Chet 538 Nanakshahi
New York City, New York: The New York Police Department, in response to UNITED SIKHS’ intervention, has charged a 36 year old New Yorker, Anthony Bryant, with Hate Crime Offences in relation to an incident last October, after initially treating the assault on a taxi driver, Avtar Singh Dhanjal, as a lesser complaint of criminal mischief.
Assistant District Attorney (ADA), Bernice Ordonez, informed Avtar Singh and UNITED SIKHS director, Mankanwal Singh, that Bryant’s first court appearance is in April when he will appear charged with three offences as follows:
1. One count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree as a Hate Crime - for snatching the trip sheet out of the victim’s hands, punishable with up to maximum of 7 years imprisonment.
2. One count of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree as a Hate Crime - for breaking the cab's mirrors, punishable with up to a maximum of 4 years imprisonment.
3. One count of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree – for insulting Dhanjal, punishable with up to a maximum of 1 year imprisonment.
Avtar Singh, 60 years, was attacked by Anthony Bryant, at a traffic light in New York City on 11th October 2006. This was the day Cory Lidle, a pitcher for the New York Yankees baseball team, was killed as his plane flew into a residential high-rise building on New York’s Upper East Side, igniting several apartments before pieces of the aircraft crashed to the ground.
Avtar Singh was stuck in a traffic jam on East 63 Street, close to the impact of the plane crash, when Bryant, driving a BMW vehicle, started to verbally abuse him with racial slurs, including comments about his turban, an article of faith worn by Sikhs to protect the sanctity of their uncut hair. Bryant also damaged Avtar Singh’s taxi by breaking the passenger’s side-view mirror and kicking the taxi. Bryant had singled out Avtar Singh due to his appearance and he had mistakenly associated the latter with terrorist groups, presuming the plane crash that day was a terrorist attack.
Avtar Singh complaint’s was initially not treated as a hate crime by police but as a criminal mischief arising from damage to property, without taking into account the hate crime nature of the offence. Police did not take Avtar Singh’s complaint seriously even though he had provided the licence plate number of the offender’s vehicle. No arrests were made until UNITED SIKHS’ International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy Directorate intervened in December by contacting the Detective Bureau at the local precinct; the Captain of the Precinct, the Hate Crime Task Force under the Police Commissioner’s officer, the New York County District Attorney’s office and Michael Theogene of the Community Affairs Department of the NYPD. As a result of this intervention, the local precinct took a second complaint from Avtar Singh, treating the incident as a hate crime.
UNITED SIKHS advises Sikhs and all other minorities who suffer racial profiling and hate crimes not to treat such incidents lightly. Victims of hate crimes and racial profiling are advised to contact UNITED SIKHS to advocate on their behalf. You may report a hate/bias crime/incident to UNITED SIKHS at http://unitedsikhs.org/hatecrime/
The previous Press Release on Avtar Singh’s case may be viewed here :
Operations Manager, UNITED SIKHS
Tel: (1) 888 243 1690
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