Indian American Gurdev Singh Kang, former president of the Sikh Cultural Society; and Pakistani American Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program, were among those appointed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on May 25 as commissioners to the City Commission on Human Rights. LGBTQ activist Carrie Davis was also appointed to the commission.
“It is a great honor to serve as a Commissioner. It is very important that the voices of minorities be heard during this crucial time,” said Kang, in a press statement released by the mayor’s office. Human rights commissioners are appointed by the mayor and identify issues of bias, discrimination, and harassment impacting their communities.
Kang is the former president of the largest Sikh temple in New York City, The Sikh Cultural Society. He served as president from 2012 to 2016, and has been affiliated with the Sikh Cultural Society for over 25 years.
As president, Kang started the Nagar Kirtan program and sports initiatives for youth. He is also a member of the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council and a clergy member of 1 Police Plaza. Kang emigrated from Punjab, India, in 1981 and started a deli/grocery business, then moved on to business endeavors ranging from real estate to retail. He has been a member of Community Board 2 in Staten Island since 2006.
“I hope to help prevent discrimination against New Yorkers based on their race and religious beliefs. Every New Yorker has the right to practice his or her own religion without having to face any fear or threat of a violent attack,” said Kang.
Patel serves as co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program, which seeks to ensure that our counterterrorism laws and policies respect human rights norms and fundamental freedoms. She focuses on issues relating to surveillance, including police monitoring of Muslim communities, interception of electronic communications by security agencies, and Islamophobia, and has published seven reports investigating possible racial profiling of Muslims by U.S. intelligence agencies.
De Blasio lauded the achievements of his new appointees. “Spanning LGBTQ rights, national security issues, and leadership in Sikh communities, today’s appointees represent the very best of New York City,” he said in a press statement. “This progressive and extraordinarily qualified group share strong dedication to safeguarding the rights, safety, and dignity of all people in New York City. I am confident this agency will continue to be a robust enforcer of our fundamental civil rights and improve community relations among New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs,” said the mayor