Posts tagged ‘Mayoral forum’

UNITED SIKHS cosponsor and speak at the “NYC 2013: Electing the Right(s) Mayor” Forum

On Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 2pm, the Arab American, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian community of New York gathered at New York University to hear where mayoral candidates stand on important issues affecting our community.  The packed room listened in as moderator Errol Louis, of NY1, asked candidates tough questions.  Mayoral candidates in attendance were: Sal Albanese, Bill de, Blasio, Adolfo Carrion, Jr., John C. Liu, Christine C. Quinn, Erick Salgado, and Bill Thompson.  UNITED SIKHS cosponsored this event and policy advocacy and representative, Anisha Singh, asked the candidates how they would address bias-based bullying.

Anisha asked the candidates about their bias-based bullying prevention initiatives. She stated, “Three out of four Sikh American boys are bullied in the United States due to their appearance.  They were called Bin Laden, terrorist, and told to go ‘back to their country’ even if they were born and raised in the United States. Too many of our children are victims of hate crimes. In 2008, a Sikh boy’s turban was lit on fire by a classmate in New Jersey.  That same year a New York City Sikh girl’s uncut, sacred, hair was forcibly cut by a classmate.  A year later, another New York City Sikh boy was punched and harassed daily for about a year and nothing was done for him until it escalated to disturbing degrees of violence.  Those are just three examples within a period of a year.  Our children are afraid to go to school and are constantly looking over their shoulder with this fear, all at such a young age.  As Mayor, what preventative measured are you going to take to ensure our children are not victims of bullying and hate crimes in their schools?” she asked.

In response to the question, candidates and audience members gasped and began tweeting their thoughts (for more see: #Right4NY). Sal Albanese spoke on his experience working in public school education and his belief that the message must go out to the public that bullying will not be tolerated.  Bill de Blasio gained applause from the audience when he addressed the issue by stating that “we as a nation have let go of civics at a time when it is most vital for civic education to become a priority.”  Adolfo Carrion said “it will be his mayoral directive to speak to parents of children who bully other children to make sure they are educated.”  He also said that this was an issue that was “swept under the rug” and thanked Anisha for highlighting the issue.  Christine Quinn responded by saying that, “just as students are victims of bullying and are afraid to walk into their school buildings, so are the teachers and staff who also get victimized.”  To address this she posed the implementation of staff trainings for teachers and, if elected, she would visit schools with bullying incidents the morning after the incident happened.  Erick Salgado said there should be “zero tolerance” for bullying and there needs to be a hotline for reporting these bullying incidents.

John Liu stole the spotlight by speaking at length about Sikh advocacy work. He started by thanking UNITED SIKHS for our work and pointing out that Sikh advocacy groups work hard to come up with free curriculum kits for school to use to educate their students on Sikhism yet these kits are ignored by the schools.  He also pointed out that complaints to the Department of Education are not taken seriously but that these complaints and incidents need to be addressed and even tracked.  Finally, he spoke on how the NYPD does not allow Sikhs to wear turbans while on the police force and this also needs to change.  Bill Thompson agreed with Liu about getting rid of the NYPD turban regulation in order to show Sikhs are a part of and accepted by the community.

Other memorable moments at the forum included opening statements and other important questions posed to the candidates. In her opening statement, Christine C. Quinn stated, “[We should be] bringing communities together, not ripping them apart.” Bill de Blasio spoke on the need for Muslim Holidays and John C. Liu recognized that our communities suffered the most.

Other questions posed to the candidates included topics of religious freedom, police accountability, free speech, and Muslim school holidays.  In light of the “Ground Zero Mosque” opposition, candidates asked what they would do as mayor to ensure that people of faith are able to build places of worship and that no neighborhood in our city is off limits to any community.  In addition, candidates were informed that zero leads have been produced from years of warrantless spying and profiling by the NYPD on Muslim and Sikh Americans.  When candidates were asked to raise their hands if they thought the current NYPD surveillance program is unconstitutional, only John C. Liu and Erick Salgado raised their hands.  John Liu added, “America is a place of religious freedom.  How can anyone here think it is okay to spy on people just because they look Muslim?” All other candidates present claimed that while they thought the NYPD surveillance is constitutional, they think it is wrong.  Nourah AbuShaban, an NYU student, also asked the candidates to speak on the protection of free speech.

To see the buzz from the event, search #Right4NY on twitter and read comments from candidates, participants, and the audience.

 

Anisha Singh, Policy Advocate for UNITED SIKHS, asks candidates about bias-based bullying

Anisha Singh, Policy Advocate for UNITED SIKHS, asks candidates about bias-based bullying

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates