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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-24-01-2009-00.htm

Press Release: 24th Jan 2009, Saturday         11th Maagh (Samvat 541 Nanakshahi )

Press Release

New York Police Urged to Investigate if Savage Attack on Sikh was a Hate Crime
Police Agree to Interview Victim Again

Jackson Heights, New York, USA: In a press conference and at a separate meeting today in Jackson Heights, police were urged to investigate if the violent assault and robbery on Jasmir Singh last Sunday could be charged as a hate crime. At a press conference held outside Elmhurst Hospital soon after Jasmir Singh was discharged, Assemblyman Jose Peralta called on police to investigate if the recent attack on Jasmir Singh was as hate crime. Simultaneously, UNITED SIKHS and Sikh and multifaith community leaders held a meeting with the police hosted by Councilwoman Helen Sears to voice concerns regarding the investigation. Police have agreed to continue to fully investigate the case and will interview Jasmir Singh again in a week’s time to determine if they can charge defendants with a hate crime. Two young men have been charged for this attack with assault in the first degree and robbery in the first degree, both serious felony charges. A third man is still at large.

- "I am prepared to do another interview with the victim (Jasmir Singh) in a few days time to establish if there is a hate crime element to the offences." - Hate Crimes Task Force Commander Inspector Michael Osgood

- "I urge police to continue their investigation of the hate and bias aspects of Jasmir's assault, so that they may prosecute these criminals to the fullest extent of the law." - Assemblyman Jose Peralta

-"We welcome UNITED SIKHS to provide community awareness training to our officers during our training programs." - Inspector John Lavelle, Commanding Officer 115th Precinct

- "We would like to set up an education program in schools so that hate crime issues can be dealt with." - NYC Councilwoman Helen Sears

-"We are approaching our elected representatives to ensure that there is a vigorous investigation to establish if the crime in question was motivated by hate." Harpreet Singh Toor, Chairman, Sikh Cultural Society of NY.

-"There is a need for communities to work together to achieve a good relationship between themselves and the police so that whenever an incident like this happens all parties are in communication from an early stage." - Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Director of Cause-NY

-If you wish to assist Jasmir's family, you may donate online at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/donate or mail a check payable to UNITED SIKHS and marked "Jasmir Singh's education and medical treatment fund" to JAF POB 7203, NY, NY 10116.



At the press conference outside Elmhurst Hospital, Assemblyman Jose Peralta asked New Yorkers to step forward and participate in the protection of their respective neighborhoods, and advocated the need for block watch programs. Citing examples of recent hate crimes in New York, he stated, “I urge police to continue their investigation of the hate and bias aspects of Jasmir’s assault, so that they may prosecute these criminals to the fullest extent of the law.” Jasmir Singh also spoke, stating that “the attackers questioned me about my hair and threatened to cut it.” Jasmir was stabbed in the left eye with a glass bottle and has lost vision in his left eye as a result of the attack. UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney Jaspreet Singh stated, “We appreciate the police’s diligent efforts and nothing must happen to stop the successful prosecution of the assailants in this case. Violent crimes are bad at the first instance but worse if motivated by hate, because it’s tears away at the fabric of civil society.”

In a separate meeting facilitated by NY City Councilwoman Helen Sears, hate crimes task force commander Inspector Michael Osgood and Inspector John Lavelle, commanding officer of the 115th Precinct which polices the Jackson Heights area, met with Mejindarpal Kaur, legal director of UNITED SIKHS to discuss whether or not Jasmir’s attacks were motivated by hate or bias. Also present at the meeting were Harpreet Singh Toor, chairman of the Sikh Cultural Society, Richmond Hill, Jagir Singh and Ashok Kumar, President and Patron respectively of the Jackson Heights Merchants Association and Gurdeep Singh Narula. Also present were Deputy Director Howard Pollack, representing NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinns office, Jennifer Manley, Queens Director of Community Affairs for the Mayor of NY, and Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Director of Cause-NY.

At the beginning of the meeting, Inspector Osgood gave a briefing of the evidence of Jasmir’s assault and robbery, stated that police take hate crimes seriously, and that he has handled over 2000 hate crimes in his department. Inspector Lavelle also commented on the investigation, stating that “the perpetrators are well known robbers in the area and we worked with Inspector Osgood to determine if hate was the substantial motivation of the crime.” He added, “We welcome UNITED SIKHS to provide community awareness training to our officers during our training programs.”

Mejindarpal Kaur told the meeting, “We understand the police have an onerous duty to establish if the crime was motivated substantially by hate. We’ve asked the police to look at the evidence again as the attackers singled out Jasvir Singh and asked him why he didn’t cut his hair or beard and then threatened to cut his hair. They then forced him out of the store and launched a savage attack on him, without attacking anyone else in that store or indeed his Filipino friend,” she added.

After an hour long meeting, Inspector Osgood stated, “I am prepared to do another interview with the victim (Jasmir Singh) in a few days time to establish if the defendants could be charged with a hate crime.”

For details regarding the attack against Jasmir, please visit: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-21-01-2009-00.htm. If you wish to assist Jasmir's family, you may donate online at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/donate or mail a check payable to UNITED SIKHS and marked "Jasmir Singh's education and medical treatment fund" to JAF POB 7203, NY, NY 10116.

Issued By:

Jaspreet Singh
Staff Attorney
UNITED SIKHS
law@unitedsikhs.org
1-(646) 315-3909


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