UnitedSikhs

New York man sentenced for hate crime against Sikh
Online Edition Vol 2 Issue 4
I.S. Saluja
http://www.theindianpanorama.com/04.pdf
Sep 21, 2007
 

NEW YORK (TIP): Anthony Bryant, a 36 year old New Yorker, was sentenced to
do community service for 10 days and ordered to make restitution for damages
caused to Avtar Singh Dhanjal's car, after he pleaded guilty to a charge of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree as a Hate Crime.

On completion of his community service, Bryant, who had no previous convictions, had his conviction replaced with disorderly conduct, at a hearing at the Manhattan Criminal Courts (Court F) on August 17th. The case, which was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Bernice Ordonez, arose from an incident when Bryant verbally abused Avtar Singh with racial slurs, including comments about his turban, an article of faith worn by Sikhs to protect the sanctity of their uncut hair. The offender also damaged Avtar Singh's taxi by breaking the passenger's side-view mirror and kicking the taxi.

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 in New York's Upper East Side, igniting several apartments before pieces of the aircraft crashed to the ground.

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's complaint was initially not investigated by police even though he had provided the license plate number of the offender's vehicle.

No arrests were made until UNITED SIKHS' International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy Directorate intervened. On investigating, police failed to treat the incident as a hate crime but as a criminal mischief arising from damage to property. However, with the help of Douglas Zeigler, Chief of Community Affairs, New York Police Department (NYPD) and Detective Michael Theogene (NYPD), who worked along side UNITED SIKHS, Bryant, was bought to justice.

"People should come forward and report hate crimes, if they feel their voice is not being heard. Please contact us and we will do our best to help," said Mankanwal Singh, UNITED SIKHS director.

After the frightening ordeal, Avtar Singh has returned to work and is trying to return back to his usual life. "I hope that there will be an end to these hates incidents.
There is a need to highlight such incidents so that the community is aware of the problems we are facing." He also stressed on the need to educate people about the Sikh religion and stated, "It is important that people understand who we are."

He then went on say that he wished to thank UNITED SIKHS for helping in the case and he hopes the organization continues with such work as it is needed in the community.     


Article by Courtesy of http://www.theindianpanorama.com
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