NY Assemblyman Weprin condemns rising hate crimes at South Asian event

New York Assemblyman David Weprin (District 24) condemned the recent rise in hate crimes across the great city of New York and nationwide during a panel discussion at the 24th Assembly District South Asian Advisory Panel on December11.

Besides Weprin, the afternoon panel discussion was also attended by Councilman Barry Grodenchik as well as local leaders from the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities and representatives from city agencies and community organizations.

“A hate crime against one of us is a hate crime against all of us, and we must stand together against each one of these incidents” Weprin said. Grodenchik also addressed the audience and noted that there had been an increase in hate crimes against people of all races and religions through the election period in 2016, including incidents of anti-Semitism and crimes against people with a South Asian background.

According to Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows), whose district has the largest South Asian population in the city, there has been a spike in complaints about hate-related incidents since the presidential election last month.

The apparent uptick in hate-related incidents hasn’t been limited to just Muslims or those perceived to be of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. Weprin said there have also been an increased number of complaints from the Jewish and LGBT communities, among others.

“Obviously, as far as I’m concerned there’s no tolerance at all for any form of hate speech or hate crimes, whether it be physical or verbal,” he said. “We all have to stand together because a hate crime against one community is really a hate crime against all communities.”

Launched in 2015, the South Asian Advisory Panel, inside the assemblyman’s Union Turnpike office, is composed of leaders in the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities. Organizers said the goal is to foster more dialogue between the South Asian community and their elected officials by offering a direct channel for communication.

Several of the 20 or so community leaders in attendance also inquired about IDNYC, the city’s immigrant-friendly municipal ID card program. There has been some concern that program data could be used as a deportation tool under the Trump administration.

Remarks from the elected officials were followed by presentations from Tanjila Rahman of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Keerthana Nimmala of the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families, Ming-der Chang, of New York-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital, and New York City anti-violence project Equal Justice Works Fellow Nishan Bhaumik.

Mayor de Blasio has pledged the city would seek to shield the information from federal officials — something it’s being sued over — and Weprin encouraged people to continue participating in the program.

Some of the topics discussed during the meeting, the advisory panel’s fifth such session, were somewhat routine: traffic problems at an intersection, concerns about bus service near Hillside Avenue. A representative from the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs also gave a presentation about free tax services that will be available in coming months.

But the most pressing issue seemed to be hate-related incidents and the aftermath of the presidential election. Nishan Bhaumik, who leads South Asian outreach efforts for the New York City Anti-Violence Project, talked for several minutes about ways people can respond if they see someone being harassed on the streets, or in buses and subways. “You should always consider your own safety first, and figure out if it’s safe for you to interject yourself into the situation,” he said. “Just acknowledging the fact that it happened with that person might help them,” he said.

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