PHILADELPHIA -- The blocks surrounding South Philadelphia High School are a melting pot of pizzerias fronted by Italian flags, African hair-braiding salons and a growing number of Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesian restaurants.
Inside is a cauldron of cultural discontent that erupted in violence last month - off-campus and lunchroom attacks on about 50 Asian students, injuring 30, primarily at the hands of blacks. The Asian students, who boycotted classes for more than a week afterward, say they've endured relentless bullying by black students while school officials turned a blind eye to their complaints.
"We have suffered a lot to get to America and we didn't come here to fight," Wei Chen, president of the Chinese American Student Association, told the school board in one of several hearings on the violence. "We just want a safe environment to learn and make more friends. That's my dream."
Philadelphia school officials suspended 10 students, increased police patrols and installed dozens of new security cameras to watch the halls, where 70 percent of the students are black and 18 percent Asian. The Vietnamese embassy complained to the U.S. State Department about the attacks and numerous groups are investigating, including the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
The New York-based Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund joined the fray this week with a civil rights complaint to the U.S. Justice Department.
The Philadelphia school district acted with "deliberate indifference" toward the harassment and failed to prevent the Dec. 3 attacks, according to the complaint. It says Asian students' pleas for help and protection were ignored by school employees.
Asian students say black students routinely pelt them with food, beat, punch and kick them in school hallways and bathrooms, and hurl racial epithets like "Hey, Chinese!" and "Yo, Dragon Ball!"]]>
Hate crimes -- offenses stemming from hatred of persons based on their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation -- continue to be an affront to the national conscience Their incidence among some groups, moreover, has been rising. Such is the case with Asian Americans. Margaret Fung, executive director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, spoke to America of an increase in bias-related incidents. "Largely because of increased immigration," she said, "our own population has been growing over the past few decades." A number of the bias-related incidents that have taken place, she believes, are a reflection of anti-immigrant sentiment as the presence of Asian Americans becomes more visible. Last year alone saw the murder of three Asian Americans, together with numerous other bias-motivated encounters ranging from beatings to harassment. Nor are they directed only toward newly arrived immigrants, whose language difficulties may put them at greater risk. Ms. Fung observed that they affect people whose families have been here for generations.
Bias crimes against Asian Americans are part of a larger web of attacks against people of color. The hardest hit are African Americans, who remain by far the largest group of targeted people. The most brutal example in recent years was the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Tex. Tied to the back of a pick-up truck, he was dragged to death by three young white men. Equal in ferocity was the gay-bashing murder of Matthew Shepard the same year. Lured from a campus bar, the 21-year-- old University of Wyoming student was taken to a remote rural area outside Laramie, beaten, bound to a fence post and left to die. Crimes against gays and lesbians constitute the third largest group of bias crime victims. As in the case of Matthew Shepard, the perpetrators themselves are usually young. A study of hate crimes by the American Psychological Association points out that crimes targeting sexual minorities are "the most socially acceptable, and probably the most widespread form of hate crime among teenagers and young adults."
Some victims of hate crimes do not report them. Ms. Fung said that in the case of Asian Americans, police have traditionally not been very ready to receive complaints or acknowledge that the crimes may be racially motivated. "Consequently," she said, "if the matter is not investigated fully, people in our community have tended to believe that no benefit can come from reporting these incidents." And this, she added, "represents a breakdown in the criminal justice system, if people who are victims of hatred feel there is no official response from the government agencies that are supposed to help them." A similar reluctance to report victimization is sometimes found in the gay and lesbian community. For them, in addition to a sense-especially in rural areas-that a police response would be minimal, there is fear that since reporting would mean revealing their sexual orientation, such a step could harm their careers and family relationships.
Most states now have hate crime laws, but less than half include issues of sexual orientation, gender and disability. Some that do, like New York, which passed its comprehensive statute in October 2000, include socalled penalty enhancement provisions-in recognition of the fact that hate crimes victimize not just individual members of a group, but the group itself as an entity. At the federal level, anti-hate crime advocates-ranging from the Anti-Defamation League to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign (an organization that focuses on gay and lesbian rights)-continue to press fof passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Introduced in both the House and the Senate, it would allow federal authorities to investigate all hate crimes. Currently, federal law applies only when the hate crime victim was engaged in a federally protected activity, like voting. In addition, it would expand the category of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, gender and disability. While it is the states, not the federal government, that have jurisdiction over crime in general, Congress needs to take hate crimes seriously and find a constitutionally appropriate response to this terrible phenomenon.
If prevention of hate crimes, rather than. punishment, is the goal, the most effective long-term approach would be through education-starting in elementary school. As a melting pot of many cultures, part of the process of learning to be a good citizen in the United States is learning to understand and respect others in terms of their diversity and cultural differences. We are still far from achieving this understanding and respect, but assuredly it is the goal to aim for.]]>
Three men attacked a family of Indian immigrants outside the family's Queens home on Sunday night, the police said. The victims said they were punched, spit on and told "bin Laden family, go back to your country."
The police said bias may have motivated the attackers, who were described by the victims as white men. One of the victims, 32-year-old Lakhvir Singh Gill, said yesterday that he was sure prejudice and alcohol were behind the attack.
"They were drunk," Mr. Gill said yesterday of the attackers, as he rubbed his back and pointed out his injuries — a swollen lip and bruises all over his body. "It's my whole body in pain."
The attack, in Woodside, happened little more than a week after another suspected incident of bias in Queens. On July 26, a 12-year-old Hispanic girl visiting the virtually all-white enclave of Breezy Point was assaulted by a 41-year-old Breezy Point woman, prosecutors charged. According to the prosecutors, the woman assaulted the girl with a plastic wagon after telling the girl and her mother that blacks and Hispanics did not belong in Breezy Point.
The victims in the latest attack — a married couple and Mr. Gill, their cousin — were returning home on Sunday evening from an afternoon spent house-hunting on Long Island. Too tired to cook, they had stopped at the Jackson Heights Indian Market for take-out chicken curry and were walking toward their apartment at 59th Street and 47th Avenue when the three men, who had been sitting in a livery cab, began taunting one of the men, who was wearing a Sikh turban, calling him "bin Laden," his wife said. She asked that she and her husband not be identified for fear of retaliation.
The victims said they told the men, "Relax, relax," and explained that they were Indian immigrants from Punjab with no connections to Osama bin Laden or to the Taliban who sheltered him in Afghanistan.
The woman, sensing a fight was imminent, told her 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter to run into the apartment and call for help.
But the attackers started cursing the victims, spat on them, and grabbed Mr. Gill by the neck, putting him in a headlock, he and the woman said. Then, the attackers pushed and punched the victims, continuing to curse them as the woman implored them to go away, the victims said.
Mr. Gill said the men shoved him to the ground, kicking and hitting him as he curled into a fetal position to shield his head.
The attack lasted about four minutes before neighbors, hearing shouts, called the police, and a pizza deliverer intervened and tried to get the attackers off Mr. Gill.
"I was going to try to do whatever I could to get these guys off of him," said the deliverer, Greg Hodge, 41, who had met the victims a few times earlier while making deliveries for Woodside Pizza.
The three attackers ran off before the police arrived, the victims said.
Yesterday afternoon, the woman and Mr. Gill were recuperating at home while the other victim, a taxi driver, was at work. All three declined to go to a hospital for treatment.
Mr. Gill, who also drives a cab, said no one in Woodside had ever bothered or harmed them before.
"It's the first time it's happened in my life," said the woman, a special education teacher. "It's very insulting. We live in America. We are American citizens."
Though Woodside was once almost exclusively Irish, Mr. Gill said his neighbors are from many nationalities, including Greek, Colombian, Chinese, Arabic and Spanish.
For the victims, the attack conjured memories of the Sikhs and Muslims who were targeted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Gill and the woman recalled how some men shaved their beards and doffed their turbans to avoid reprisals.
But the woman said her husband would not trim his beard because of the assault.
"We are strong people," she said.]]>
DARTMOUTH -- Friends of beating victim Saurabh Bhalerao say they haven't experienced the kind of hate that police believe motivated four attackers who mistook him for a Muslim.
Fellow UMass Dartmouth student Bhushan Bauskar said the perpetrators would have beaten Mr. Bhalerao, who is Indian and Hindu, even if they hadn't thought he was Muslim.
"He told them he was Hindu, and they didn't stop the crime," said Mr. Bauskar, who attended a UMass Dartmouth conference yesterday on Indian spiritual thought in the West. "They just wanted to beat someone."
Elsewhere in the Indian community, though, people have suffered prejudice since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack, said biochemistry professor Bal Ram Singh, director of the Center for Indic Studies at UMass Dartmouth.
"People don't even know who is Indian," he said. "I don't know if the criminality started first and the bigotry came later, or the bigotry came first and the criminality later."
Mr. Bhalerao remained at Rhode Island Hospital yesterday after being beaten and burned when he delivered a pizza to an apartment on Weld Street in New Bedford on Sunday. He was bound, stuffed in a trunk and later stabbed three times.
Police have characterized it as a hate crime, saying the suspects' belief that Mr. Bhalerao was a Muslim contributed to the savagery of the crime. His facial bones were broken, and his face was burned with lit cigarettes, police said.
Another student, a friend of Mr. Bhalerao, said American prejudice should not be blamed for the crime.
"I don't think we should blame the whole country for this. That would be the height of stupidity," said Sathish Thyagarajan. "I hope he feels better, that's all."
Despite its savagery, the assault has been handled well by police and the media, Mr. Singh said.
"Everybody seems to be doing the right thing except for the culprits," he said. "Hopefully the community here will understand that we will not tolerate this."
Word of the assault has spread in the Indian-American community, and on Friday, the professor received an inquiry from the Indian government.
Concern about persecution of people who appear to be Middle Eastern emerged after the terror attacks and has continued through the war in Iraq.
"I'm more cautious about where I travel now," said Jhilam Sanyal of Brookline.
Shortly after the terror attack, her father shaved his beard and mustache to avoid being mistaken for a Muslim.
In Boston, Ms. Sanyal said, a community group advised Indians to choose one type of traditional dress over another, because one appeared less Middle Eastern.
Also in town for the conference, 18-year-old Bijal Patel, a freshman at the University of Virginia, said large religious and cultural gatherings were canceled after the attacks and her parents worried about her wearing traditional clothing for religious programs.
Next week, a rally is planned on the steps of New Bedford City Hall. Indian-Americans affiliated with the university are organizing the event "to protest the hate crime against Mr. Bhalerao and increase awareness about diversity and respect for civil rights."
Among those invited are the mayors and police chiefs of Fairhaven and New Bedford, Muslim organizations, and local members of Congress.
The rally is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Police arrested three men accused of hogtying, beating and stabbing a pizza delivery man because they mistakenly believed he was Muslim.
Saurabh Bhalerao, 24, was attacked late Sunday while delivering pizza in New Bedford, about 60 miles south of Boston.
The suspects originally intended to rob Bhalerao, but escalated the assault mistakenly believing he was Muslim, said Fairhaven police Chief Gary F. Souza. The attacks continued as Bhalerao, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, explained that he was Hindu.
"He pleaded with his attackers," Souza said. "They were using disparaging remarks…and telling him he should go back to Iraq."
The suspects put the victim into the trunk of his own car and, during the drive to the neighboring town of Fairhaven, Bhalerao managed to loosen his ropes.
When the vehicle stopped he got out and hit one of his assailants with a hammer. The assailant then stabbed Bhalerao before fleeing, police said.
Bhalerao was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in fair condition Wednesday night.
The suspects face various charges including armed assault with intent to murder, kidnapping, and hate crime and civil rights violations. All three have pleaded innocent and were being held on bail.
Police were searching for a fourth suspect.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for a federal investigation.
Hate crimes surged in 2001 against people of Islamic faith and those of Middle Eastern ethnicity in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the FBI reported last fall.
Incidents targeting Muslims, previously the least common involving religious bias, increased from just 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001 — a jump of 1,600 percent. However, anti-Jewish attacks still led the category.
Hate crimes directed against people because of their ethnicity or national origin — those not Hispanic and not black — more than doubled from 354 in 2000 to 1,501 in 2001. This category includes people of Middle Eastern origin or descent, the FBI says.
The increases, according to the report, happened "presumably as a result of the heinous incidents that occurred on Sept. 11" of 2001.
Most incidents against Muslims and people of Middle Eastern ethnicity also involved assaults and intimidation, but there were three cases of murder or manslaughter and 35 arsons.
Last Sunday's horrendous attack on an Indian student in New Bedford, Massachusetts has sent shockwaves through the Indian American community. Many expatriates reckon it to be a new dimension to the wave of hate crimes that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some, however, view it as an isolated incident.
But there is little doubt that hate crimes are steadily on the rise in the US. The Indian sufferers, in about every instance, have been victims of mistaken identity. And most of the victims have been Sikh men, mistaken to be followers of Osama bin Laden because of their turbans and beards.
Saurabh Bhalerao, the victim in the New Bedford episode, is perhaps the first Hindu to be viciously attacked by fringe elements indulging in racial profiling. Bhalerao, too, was mistaken to be a Muslim. "Go back to Iraq," his attackers shouted as they clobbered him, ignoring his protestations that he was a Hindu from India. The graduate student of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is slowly recovering.
There have been well over 250 hate crime incidents involving the Sikhs, most of them in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. But, two years later, Sikhs are still being subjected to attacks. Just a month ago, Avtar Singh, a 52-year-old truck driver, was shot at and wounded in Phoenix, Arizona. In this case, the assailants shouted: "Go back to where you belong."
Preetmohan Singh, director of the Washington DC branch of Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Taskforce (SMART), is among those who believe that hate crimes are now widening in scope. His organisation has come out with an elaborate set of do's and don'ts for the Sikh fraternity.
Amnesty International says that only one out of every nine hate crime cases is getting reported. Singh, agreeing with this contention, says that many Indian expatriates are not coming forward to lodge complaints because of their tenuous immigration status or fear of retribution.
Four days after the 9/11 attacks, Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down at his gas station in Mesa, Arizona. The man who killed him exulted: "I am a patriot. I will stand up for my brothers and sisters in New York." Sodhi's brother, Sukhpal Singh, also died in a shootout in Dale City, California, a year later, but the police concluded that it was not a hate crime.
The Indian American community is 1.8 million strong. Among the immigrant groups in the US, it happens to be one of the most affluent. Some Indians feel that this level of prosperity itself could make the community vulnerable to attacks at a time when the US economy is in the doldrums and Americans are losing jobs in a big way.
But Ann Pillai, a community activist living in the US since 1969, believes that hate crimes are not that many now and should not be blown out of proportion. A former hospital administrator in Boston, Pillai says she never encountered any racial ill-feeling in all her 34 years in the US.
Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, holds a different view. "The number of incidents may have come down, but undercurrent of fear is very much there," he says. Singh, however, is relieved that the White House remains sensitive to hate crimes and the FBI readily takes up such cases.]]>
By Scott Hiaasen and John Mangels
Cleveland Plain Dealer
May 11, 2003
Biswanath Halder's Web site was his life. Working at least eight hours a day year-round in the Case Western Reserve University computer lab, he painstakingly compiled the digital equivalent of a bulging file cabinet and hope chest, stuffed with business plans and pleas for social justice.
Then, three years ago, a prankster hacked into his computer and erased it all. "Everything I had was destroyed," he said. Halder's outrage turned into a blizzard of complaints, from the courts to the FBI and Capitol Hill. He blamed the university and a computer lab assistant named Shawn Miller - "the evil man," as Halder called him.
In Tragedy, Racists Find Common Cause
Biswanath Halder, a 62-year-old Indian American, allegedly killed a graduate student and injured two other people during a seven-hour standoff at Case Western Reserve University's business school on Friday. By Saturday night, the following comments had been posted in the guestbook on Halder's Web site:
(Sunday 05/11/2003 2:18:35am) Hey, everyone's a winner here. Some wackaloon from India comes here and shoots up a college full of liberal idiots. My regret is that he didn't take out more of them.
This is yet another reason why we need to close the borders, why we need to quit giving student visas to kids from third world countries, and why parents should never send their kids to CWRU or any other Marxist commie college.
Maybe this will be the wake-up call America needs. In the meantime, enjoy American prison, Apu, or whatever the hell your name is. I can guarantee you that had you done this in India, you'd be rotting in a teeny tiny cell with a dirt floor and nine cellmates, and living off dirty water and cockroaches for the rest of your life. And getting daily beatings from the guards.
The fact that this sub-human WON'T be subject to sub-human conditions in prison is what makes this country both great and pathetic. He may even get some bleeding heart, limp-wristed aged hippy liberal lawyer, a CWRU grad maybe, to get him off on some technicality. Just imagine, all you airheads who marched to Free Mumia, now one of your own is dead; will you call for justice? Maybe you will, but it won't change you. You'll still be a bunch of anti-American, anti-Caucasian, anti-Christian, anti-male hypocrites.
Just remember one thing: this is how 90% of America thinks. The opinion of the far-left and the opinion of the student body at CWRU is completely worthless. No one in any position of power will ever agree with you, and no one who shares your mindset will ever again be in power.
God bless America.
(Saturday 05/10/2003 10:17:59pm) Seeeeem-seeem solabeen! The spirts are about to speak. Are they friendly spirts? WATCHHHHHH THIS... All you cow loving stinky faggot Muslims should be taken out and shot on site and piled in the INDIAN OCEAN! Eat BEEF and DIE!
(Saturday 05/10/2003 9:35:33pm) another mud skinned immigrant , his brain infected by liberal diseases . a brilliant example of diversity , throw them out of the country.
(Saturday 05/10/2003 9:02:54pm) Hello My name is Biswanath Halder, I like to thank all Americans to let me come to their country, get my H-1B, shoot everybody on site, and take all the good jobs. And I love curry and fucking camels up the ass. I love black hair Indians, with the viels over their face, I have 12 children, we need to be at 2.0 billion indians in the world. THanks for letting me take your jobs, and for the target practice! I love America!!!
(Saturday 05/10/2003 8:20:32pm) Embarrass myself? This basmati rice eating motherfucker took a gun and KILLED People and you are worried about ME EMBARRISING MYSELF? This stupid ass H1B got his job cus he was from INDIA. No immigration = no dead students. It’s that SIMPLE, CLOSE THE BORDERS AND NO MORE H1B Job suckers. He is a disgrace to ALL Indians and ALL of the policies that ever allowed him to come to MY COUNTRY.
We should close our borders to everyone outside the country. This is one more piece of proof. When are we going to start shipping this foreign human excrement back to their sand dunes? What will our government do? They will ban more guns to make the sheep feel safer, Meanwhile there is another Biswanath Halder out there sucking up another job and potentially another life when he goes nuts.
GET THEM ALL THE HELL OUT!
(Saturday 05/10/2003 8:03:20pm) I am a militant Islamic Indian. Allah Akbar. I love Osoma and Saddam! Praise be to my ass and my mom the sacred cow!
(Saturday 05/10/2003 7:57:41pm) I hope this bastard gets killed in jail. That or I hope someone butt rapes his ass till it bleeds. And to the asshole that made a comment about guns.. WRONG This Indian dot head was a anti war anti gun asshole who STOLE His weapons when he felt he "needed" guns. isnt it like a leftist to take from others.
(Saturday 05/10/2003 7:57:37pm) Now we see what type of scumbag you ALL are. Your prison sentance should be having to eat hamburger made from the stupid cow that your whore mother worships to in HELL!!! May the flies from a thousand piles of dead hindu scumbags infest your anal canal after you are raped daily in prison!!
(Saturday 05/10/2003 7:12:08pm) Regarding the notion that everyone is the same, the fact of the matter is that India has the highest incidence of TB in the world and continues to do little about it. 1,000 people die in India each day from TB. Rather than solve the problems in their back yard, these mutants come here and bring their germs, viruses, and completely fucked-up shit with them.
Close the borders and send the mutants home!
(Saturday 05/10/2003 6:30:27pm) Why is it always so easy to guess that this type of thing is done by a mutant from one of the more obnoxious foreign countries? Mutants who do not even have the sense shut-down their silly web sites before they berserk!
Close all the borders and send these mutants back to their homelands, and let them wreak havoc there, not here!
(Saturday 05/10/2003 4:52:40pm) We should close our borders to everyone outside the country. This is one more piece of proof. When are we going to start shipping this foreign human excrement back to their sand dunes?
(Saturday 05/10/2003 4:31:28pm) Have fun in prison where you belong. Now I can have my job back. One down, another billion to go. Fuck you, you slimy H1B... thanks for showing the world what H1Bs really are.
Police believe Halder's grievance with the school inspired the shooting.
Miller, 38, who was in the Lewis Building on Friday, never got a good look at the shooter, but said yesterday that "about the third or fourth hour, I started to wonder, 'Oh, wow, gee, what if it was him?' "
Court records, interviews and Halder's writings show that the bachelor led a life of awkward isolation while creating an Internet persona of a budding millionaire and social activist, even a savior of the world. There were plenty of contradictions.
He bragged in a deposition from his lawsuit against Miller that his Web-based business plan would "have an impact of billions of dollars a year on mankind," though Halder himself was borrowing from one credit card to pay off another.
He posted an Internet resume seeking jobs as an engineer, yet had sued many potential employers for not hiring him. He has not held a job since at least 1990, instead devoting himself "365 days a year" to establishing a vague "electronic network" of enterprising Indians - a venture he blamed Miller for destroying.
"In a few seconds, the evil man wiped out everything that it took my lifetime to create," Halder said in an e-mail sent to the entire Weatherhead School of Management in August 2000. "Now, the evil man is on his evil path to destroy Weatherhead."
According to his resume, Halder served in the Indian army and received a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Calcutta. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1969 and became a U.S. citizen 11 years later. He lived in New York, Boston and Maryland before moving to Cleveland about 1996.
During the 1970s, he filed numerous unsuccessful discrimination and civil rights cases against big companies like NCR and Sperry Rand, who he said refused to hire him. He said the companies paid off the judges to defeat him.
In his resume, Halder claims he worked as a stockbroker and a real-estate salesman, though in a July 2002 deposition Halder said his last job was as a contract employee for IBM in the late 1980s. At about the same time, he said he began collecting Social Security for various disabilities, including an injured hip and wrist, elbow problems and glaucoma. He underwent psychological tests, but when pressed by Miller's lawyer, he said that had nothing to do with his $600-a-month government check.
Halder received a master's in business administration from CWRU in 1999, but continued to take classes sporadically, apparently to maintain his privileges in the computer lab.
Neighbors within sight of his third-floor housetop apartment in Little Italy, with its front windows covered with aluminum foil, describe a classic loner who rarely spoke and walked down the middle of Coltman Road pulling a grocery cart filled with books.
Halder himself said he tried "to avoid everybody. I do not talk to anybody unless I have to."
"I never really had a lengthy conversation with him," said Jared Oakes, a CWRU law school student who lived in the apartment downstairs. "He'd say, 'Do you have clothes in the dryer?' "
Halder's problems at CWRU began in June 2000, when a visitor to his Web site left a mocking message: "Bizzy Halder is a moron. This guy makes a living out of creeping people out. From his fake hair, to his fake teeth, his whitey tighty shorts and pants. . . . this guy is LOON."
A month later, someone Halder described as a hacker deleted his Web site files. Halder was convinced the culprit was Shawn Miller. He first complained to CWRU's administration, then to the University Circle police.
When they didn't respond, he went to the Cleveland police, the FBI, and even named Miller in letters to the Senate and House judiciary committees.
Miller has denied doing anything to Halder's computer files. Miller's lawyer argued that Halder focused on Miller because the lab assistant told Halder his computer privileges were suspended.
In fact, Halder's computer access was taken away more than once. In 1999, the university shut down his computer account for upsetting a female lab worker, records show. And in November 2001, an associate dean said Halder "harassed and disrupted other users" in the computer lab.
Halder aspired to use his Web site to promote social good as well as to make money. "I try to solve mankind's problems through the Internet," he said in his deposition.
"He's a very vocal social activist," said Durga Choudhury, a New Hampshire engineer who designed a portion of Halder's Web site when both men lived in Boston in the 1990s. "He speaks up for depressed people all over. He was opposing the war in Iraq, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India."
The loss of the Web site, and his intensifying anger toward CWRU, derailed whatever plans Halder had.
He spent the rest of that year rebuilding his computer files, finding a lawyer and obsessing about Miller.
"If the unholy trio of an incompetent police department, a perfect idiot mayor, and a felon clerk of the council continue to rule Cleveland, very dark days are ahead for Clevelanders," Halder wrote to then-Mayor Michael White in 2001 after the police wouldn't respond to his complaints about Miller.
As more time passed, his warnings became more dire. In a July 2002 letter to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John Sutula, who was overseeing the Miller lawsuit, Halder wrote:
"The end result of all of these outright evil actions will be that society will end up paying a severe price."]]>
BANGOR, Maine -- The owner of a Pakistani restaurant in downtown Bangor expressed anger at the acquittal of a Bradford man accused of threatening him four days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
''Is this how (American) justice works?'' asked Noor Khan, 39, when a reporter informed him by telephone of the verdict in the trial of Jeffrey Saulnier.
The Penobscot County Superior Court jury deliberated 2½ hours Thursday before finding Saulnier, 46, innocent of criminal terrorizing.
The verdict does not affect a permanent injunction obtained by the state attorney general's office that bars Saulnier from having contact with or threatening Khan, his family and customers.
Khan testified that Saulnier threatened to kill him after the restaurateur asked the man to leave the crowded Bahaar Pakistani Restaurant. Khan said he was concerned for the safety of his family and customers.
Saulnier admitted in his testimony that he had threatened to kill Khan but denied threatening his family or customers. Saulnier also testified that he is a 100 percent disabled Vietnam veteran and suffers from a stress disorder.
Saying he expected a guilty verdict, Khan questioned why no one tried to get witnesses who were in the restaurant at the time to testify on his behalf.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Roberts said Khan's absence from the country since June and the unavailability of witnesses who had been interviewed by police after the incident made it difficult to prepare the case. Khan testified after returning to Bangor on Monday; his family did not testify.
Following the verdict, defense attorney Martha Harris said Saulnier was grateful the matter was settled.
She said that because the incident happened so soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, the media attention it received made it appear it was a racist act.
''I've known Jeff 12 years, and he's not a racist,'' Harris said.
Khan said the outcome of the trial was unfair.
''For 19 months my family has suffered, and we still are suffering,'' he said.]]>
A Muslim family’s van is destroyed near Chicago, a Muslim teen-ager is badly beaten in California, a mosque is attacked in Illinois — and the list lengthens daily with new reports of harassment and violence across the nation. This rise in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States would be big news in ordinary times. But with war raging in Iraq — and terrorist alerts at home — these are far from ordinary times.
For most Americans, “small stories” about hate crimes are drowned out by the constant drumbeat of war coverage. But Muslim Americans (and those who look like they might be) are paying close attention. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, has even issued a ”Muslim Community Safety Kit” with tips for handling the threat. Add to the mix intense government surveillance of Islamic groups and individuals since 9-11 and it’s not hard to see why many Muslims in America live in fear and anxiety these days.
Add to the mix intense government surveillance of Islamic groups and individuals since 9-11 and it’s not hard to see why many Muslims in America live in fear and anxiety these days.
Of course, most Muslim Americans — like most other Americans — understand and support the need for tighter security in the struggle against terrorism. Local Arab and Muslim leaders across the nation have repeatedly urged cooperation with law enforcement in the pursuit of terrorist suspects.
At the same time, however, there’s widespread concern that new government powers are being used to sweep up innocent people and invade the privacy of home and mosque. Backlash against ethnic or religious groups in times of war is nothing new. But as Japanese-Americans can attest, it can have serious consequences and leave lasting scars.
To their credit, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies around the nation appear to be waking up to the danger of over-reaction by government officials and hate crimes by demented individuals. CAIR reports that FBI agents are now meeting with Muslim and Arab-Americans in various parts of the nation to listen to their concerns, reassure them that the fight against terrorism is not an attack on Muslim Americans, and promise full prosecution of hate crimes.
Striking the right balance — securing the nation against terrorists while simultaneously upholding religious and other freedoms — isn’t easy. But it’s well worth the effort to sustain the American experiment in liberty.
Living up to our principles in the face of war is not only the right thing to do at home — it also serves our strategic interests abroad. The treatment of Muslim Americans is closely watched by Muslims elsewhere. By protecting religious liberty even in a time of danger, we send a clear message that Muslim and Arab-Americans are every bit as “American” as any other citizen of any other faith — or of no faith.
As it is, few people in the “Arab street” seem to know anything positive about America — including the fact that Muslims have more freedom to practice Islam in the United States than they do in most Muslim nations. Thanks to propaganda and indoctrination (and a history of past unjust actions by Western governments) many in the Muslim world distrust our motives for invading Iraq. According to a recent Arab American Institute/Zogby International poll of opinion in a number of Arab countries, only 6 percent of those surveyed believe that the United States is fighting the war in Iraq to promote democracy in the Muslim or Arab world.
When the shooting stops and nation-building begins, we’ll have to work hard to reverse this dim view of American aims in the Middle East. Among other things, that means making sure that we model at home the religious-liberty principles that we hope to export abroad.
We can start by looking for those overlooked hate-crime stories in our own community — and then reaching out to protect our Muslim neighbors. That’s what happened recently in Pomona, Calif., where non-Muslim Americans responded to a threat of violence against an Islamic school by putting themselves on the line to protect Muslim students. And that’s what needs to happen in every part of the nation.
Winning the battle against terrorism, however important, will not be enough. How we win is also critical. Our challenge is to act in ways that promote — rather than undermine — the future of democratic freedom in America and throughout the world.
Charles C. Haynes is senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, Arlington, Va.]]>
A man convicted of writing a racial slur on a Pasadena, Maryland woman's car was sentenced yesterday to serve two weekends in jail.
Disturbed by the deliberate nature of the crime, Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Hackner said Robert W. Strickland, 20, of 307 Gold Brush Way in Pasadena deserved a sentence exceeding state-recommended guidelines, which called for probation and no jail.
"(A hate crime is) something that really shocks you and affects your comfort level," the judge said. "It's not appropriate in a case like this to have probation without some punishment."
The judge suspended the balance of a six-month sentence and placed Strickland on 18 months probation. He faced a maximum of three years in prison.
Lia Thorn, 18, and Matt Maldeis, 20, stopped at the Pasadena Exxon at 2459 Mountain Road for drinks on Sept. 19. When they came out, Strickland and another man, Robert Stacey, 20, of 9090 Fort Smallwood Road, had blocked in Ms. Thorn's Mercury Capri convertible with their pickup. Mr. Stacey is awaiting trial.
One man yelled, "Go back home to Vietnam!" when they left the store.
As the men drove off, Mr. Maldeis, who is of Asian decent, noticed that someone had written a racial epithet on the canvas top of the car.
"Oh, that's nice," he recalled saying. Then he felt angry.
"We did absolutely nothing wrong," he told Judge Hackner. "This station is one mile from my house and I haven't been back there since."
Ms. Thorn said she eventually sold the car because she couldn't remove the ink.
Strickland has a previous conviction in Juvenile Court for malicious destruction of property, but no adult record.
Assistant State's Attorney Laura Kiessling said sending hate crime offenders to jail can deter others from committing similar crimes.
"It's important to send a message to the citizens of Anne Arundel County that if you commit a hate crime, you are going to go to jail," she said.
Strickland's attorney, Todd Mohink of Glen Burnie, said his client was intoxicated at the time. While on probation, Strickland plans to enroll in a 30-day residential treatment program for alcohol.
"It's not an excuse, but it's a factor," Mr. Mohink said. "He is humiliated beyond any doubt."
Strickland apologized to the victims in court.
"What I did was wrong and I understand that. It was stupid. I never would have done that if I was sober," he said.]]>
Three members of a Brooklyn family have been arrested in connection with a January bias crime at Caffé on the Green restaurant in Bayside.
George Fortunato, 60, a Brooklyn legal consultant; his wife, Jacqueline Fortunato, 59; and their daughter, Annamarie Fortunato, 33, were arrested and charged with assault in the third degree as a hate crime. Police are still looking for an unidentified male who sat at the Fortunatos’ table.
Connie Coleman, 45, was dining at the restaurant with Marian Eng, her sister, and a friend on January 3rd when, police say, she was attacked by Annamarie Fortunato and beaten by all four diners after being assailed with a litany of anti-Asian slurs.
Joseph Mure Jr., a lawyer for the Fortunatos, said his clients are “absolutely” innocent and that “things got a little blown out of proportion.”
He also said Annamarie Fortunato was not in the restaurant that evening. “She was absolutely not there,” he said.
During a press conference last Thursday, Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said that the Fortunatos were tracked down after anonymous calls were placed to Liu’s office and police.
Philip Hom, Liu’s chief of staff, said someone called him after hearing Fortunato brag about the attack. “He (the caller) thought it was a great injustice,” Hom said. “He said, ‘This person thought he was going to get away with it.’”
At the press conference, Coleman said George Fortunato ran into her twice on his way outside for a cigarette. After the second instance, Coleman said Eng and Fortunato exchanged mean looks and Fortunato’s party began to refer to Coleman’s party as “f------ gooks” and “f------ chinks” before George Fortunato threw a glass filled with wine at Coleman as he stood to leave the restaurant.
The unidentified man then allegedly punched Coleman in the face, knocking her to the ground. Coleman said Annamarie Fortunato then held her down as George Fortunato, Jacqueline Fortunato, and the fourth man punched and kicked her. According to the police, the Fortunato party then left the restaurant without paying a $400 tab.
In a news conference last month when Caffé on the Green manager Joe Franco apologized to Coleman for the incident, Eng and Coleman’s husband, Jim, said the restaurant’s wait staff did nothing to help as Connie Coleman was beaten. “We just stood there and asked for help. If they did help, my sister would not have been beaten up so badly, and they wouldn’t have apologized,” Eng said.
Mure painted a different picture. He said the Fortunatos were the victims of an attack by Coleman, who was angry that George Fortunato mistakenly bumped into her on a trip outside to smoke a cigarette. When he returned to his table, Mure said, Fortunato apologized to Coleman and was “very careful” not to run into her, and when he sat down, Coleman’s party then began to look menacingly at the Fortunatos’ table.
Mure said there were no further incidents until Coleman got up to leave and knocked into Jacqueline Fortunato’s chair. After Jacqueline Fortunato looked at Coleman, she allegedly elbowed her in the head. “She smashed into her face,” Mure said.
At that point, Mure said, someone else at Coleman’s table jumped up, and Coleman grabbed Jacqueline Fortunato by the hair when they both fell to the floor. At this point, Coleman allegedly began punching Jacqueline Fortunato while others attempted to pull Coleman’s hands away.
When they succeeded, Mure said, Coleman threw a knife at George Fortunato while she was still on the floor. Mure did not say what type of knife was thrown.
He also said his clients did not use anti-Asian slurs at any point during the dinner or the attacks. “The Fortunatos deny making racial remarks,” he said.
Mure said his clients will face a tough battle because of the attention this case has received. “This is pretty much a mess here. There has been major media attention and I see pressure from the DA. Remember, this is a misdemeanor assault charge. It makes no sense.”
On Monday, Liu refused to refute Mure’s charges directly, but applauded the policework in the investigation, which led them to the Fortunatos.
“The question is, who was arrested and who was not? The police have made the arrests and filed the charges, and this is a hate crime and has to be prosecuted as a hate crime,” he said.
At the press conference, Coleman spoke more freely of the incident than she did at the previous one, saying she was somewhat relieved the Fortunatos were arrested, but that their arrests brought back details of the disturbing event. “It’s like a closure, but all of a sudden something I want to forget came back to me.”
Coleman came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1969 and settled in Bayside, where she lived for 16 years. When she was a child, she played hide-and-seek on the grounds around what would become the Caffé on the Green restaurant, the ornate 1919 house that was once the home of actor Rudolph Valentino.
Caffé on the Green is located on the city-owned Clearview Golf Club and receives a concession from the Parks Department to operate a private business on the site.
Coleman, who still has trouble turning her head, said she has not ruled out civil legal action against the Fortunatos but would not say whether or not she was considering a lawsuit against the restaurant.]]>
Shortly before 2 a.m. this morning, Daisy Myong-Hui Lundy, Student Council presidential candidate and second-year College student, was assaulted in Poe Alley, directly behind the West side of the Lawn.
According to several sources who were nearby at the time, Lundy had just left the Lawn room of Tim Lovelace, student member of the Board of Visitors, to retrieve her cellular phone from her car, which was parked at the end of the alley, near Lovelace’s room.
While searching for her phone, an unknown assailant wearing “a hat and jacket” reportedly assaulted her, several sources said. Lundy was leaning into her car when the assailant grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head against the steering wheel. She subsequently fell to the ground, injuring her ankle.
Multiple sources, including Coalition Chair Ryan McCarthy, who was present when Lundy spoke to the police, confirmed this morning that Lundy told police the assailant said, “no one wants a nigger to be president.”
[In campuswide elections held Feb. 25-26, Lundy received 2006 votes to Ed Hallen's 1830, but according to Council bylaws, a candidate must win by 5 percent of the total vote. -- Ed.]
|Lundy reported that she was struck by an unknown assailant while searching for her cellular phone in her car, pictured here. Police responded within one minute and blocked off the area. Photo by Guillaume De Torquat.|
Police would not comment on any specifics concerning the investigation.
Lawn residents were alerted to the scene when Lundy repeatedly honked her car horn. Lovelace heard the honking and “decided to make sure things were okay,” said McCarthy, who lives two rooms down from Lovelace and has been actively involved in Lundy’s campaign. When Lovelace arrived on the scene, Lundy was laying on the ground and he began screaming.
Fourth-year Curry student Mary Ellen Bizzarri said she heard Lovelace scream and “walked down the alley, and Tim screamed ‘call 911.’” Bizzarri called the police at 1:53 a.m.
Police responded to the scene within 60 seconds, according to University Police Sgt. Dave Webb, who remained at the scene of the assault for several hours afterward.
Webb said there was only a vague description of the assailant, but that the Charlottesville and University Police had been notified. An ambulance soon arrived on the scene and carried Lundy to the University Medical Center.
Prior to the assault, Lundy had filed police reports regarding telephone threats she began receiving Sunday night.
As of 4 a.m., McCarthy said Lundy planned to leave the hospital, having sustained no serious injuries. She planned to stay with friends for the remainder of the night.
I write to you with a deep sense of anguish. Early this morning, a member of our community was attacked near her car parked in Poe Alley. The victim was Daisy Lundy, a second-year student who is one of the two candidates for Student Council president. After being treated at the U.Va. emergency room, Ms. Lundy was released and is now recovering from what were diagnosed as minor injuries.
The University is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Due to the circumstances of the attack and the racially derogatory statement made by the attacker at the time of the crime, University Police are investigating it as a hate crime. They have issued a press release stating that the assailant is reported to be a heavy-set white male wearing a dark coat, light pants and a dark hat. The police are aggressively investigating the crime and urge anyone with information to call 924-7166.
As word of this horrific incident has spread, members of the University community are shocked and outraged that such a cowardly, apparently racially motivated act could occur in our midst. Ms. Lundy, who is African American and Korean, had been involved in a highly publicized election for Student Council president. In the past few days, she had experienced an increasing sense of concern after receiving hang-up telephone calls, one of which included intimidating language and profanity. She had reported the latter to the police.
This morning's attack draws anger and sadness. It should. Our institutional values do not condone physical violence, racism, stealth, intimidation or terror. Yet, we must realistically admit that something very wrong and terrible has occurred in a place we believed to be reasonably secure and above such baseless, violent acts.
To African-American students, I want to acknowledge the range of emotions you may be feeling right now - anger, hurt, powerlessness, isolation. You may also feel unsafe or even unsure of your role as a student of the University. We are committed to providing whatever support you want or need right now. If you need to talk, if you need to be angry - we will not turn away. We (and I am especially talking about the professionals in Student Affairs) will listen because we all need to learn from this incident and fully deal with the ugliness it represents. This incident potentially changes us all, but it does not change the initiatives and goals we already have begun working on to make this a more tolerant, multicultural community - one that embraces differences and recoils at the mere suggestion of violence or terrorism directed at any of its members.
In coming weeks, we cannot freeze one another out or allow existing divisiveness to grow deeper. We must channel the anger in constructive ways, toward the diversity work that now demands our attention in a new way. Each of us has a responsibility to extend a hand, to seek ways to bring our community together and bridge the divides that we know exist.
This incident has saddened and angered many throughout the community. Those emotions were evident this morning as I met with the University's academic deans to brief them. Student leaders, including the current leadership of Student Council, have expressed the same reaction and are deeply sorrowful that a fellow student would be victimized in this way.
As a means of expressing reactions to this incident, a community meeting - "Community Reflection and Response" - will take place this afternoon from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Newcomb Ballroom. Karen Holt, director of Equal Opportunity Programs, will moderate the session. Following the community meeting, small group sessions will be available at 6 p.m. for those who wish to continue the discussion.
All offices within the Division of Student Affairs, including the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, African- American Affairs, Dean of Students, Residence Life, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Newcomb Hall, and the Center for Alcohol and Substance Education, will be available to students for small-group and one-on- one discussion or counseling.
We have some hard work ahead, but people at all levels of the institution are committed to bringing about positive change that goes beyond mere talk about diversity. With your safety and support as first priorities, my office will be working with President Casteen, the vice presidents, deans and leaders throughout the University to address your concerns and ensure an environment that is as safe and civil as possible.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President for Student Affairs
Daisy Lundy will be president of the University of Virginia Student Council next year, following her opponent’s decision to drop out of the racially charged contest, council officials said Monday.
Although the election was resolved Monday, racial tensions prompted by a reported race-based assault on Lundy were nowhere close to being settled, judging from the fiery speeches at a community meeting that night at Mount Zion Baptist Church.
Lundy told police she had been attacked Feb. 26, the second day of a runoff election between her and Ed Hallen, a junior. Polls closed early that day, and council officials were planning to resume the vote this week, as students returned from spring break.
But Hallen ended the suspense Sunday when he dropped out of the race after speaking with Lundy, said Atima Omara-Alwala, the council’s vice president for administration. Hallen sent an e-mail that night to council members explaining his decision.
“I choose to withdraw from the presidential election in order that Daisy and I may better work together as partners in the coming year,” Hallen said in a statement.
Council members were “not entirely” surprised by Hallen’s decision to withdraw, Omara-Alwala said.
“This election has been unusually draining for both sides,” she noted. “There was a lot of relief on both sides.”
Lundy issued a statement Monday evening calling the assault part of “a larger problem of exclusion that has plagued our university for far too long.”
“My greatest concern is that the incident exactly two weeks ago has focused too much attention on me,” Lundy added. “The events that transpired are not simply about Daisy Lundy, nor are they merely about Student Council.”
She also urged “every member of the university community … to commit themselves to creating an environment in which all members are treated with tolerance, civility, and respect.”
Lundy will be the first minority female in UVa’s history to become Student Council president. Five black men have held the post.
Omara-Alwala said Hallen, chairman of the council’s racial and ethnic affairs committee, is interested in working with the council in some capacity next year. He was unavailable for comment Monday.
Despite the election’s resolution, feelings remained tense as the investigation by UVa police and the FBI continued. Authorities interviewed Lundy on Monday near the UVa Lawn, where the incident reportedly occurred, a friend said.
Lundy told police that a heavyset white man between the ages of 18 and 20 assaulted her, using a racial slur referring to her candidacy. She suffered a minor concussion and injured her knee and ankle. No arrests have been made.
Meanwhile, about 50 area residents, many affiliated with UVa, met Monday night at Mount Zion Baptist Church to air their feelings about race relations. Many speakers voiced frustration.
“I’m tired of every time we have a problem at the university, we have a meeting,” said Hank Allen, a retired employee. “Then it’s over, and we think we solved the problem.”
Some attendees expressed their disappointment that few students attended the meeting, but others said that students are very active in organizing discussions and events this week to address the issue of race relations.
But long-term change, retired lecturer Virginia Hines argued, lies with the faculty.
“I think every department has old boys,” she said. “It runs through our society.”
M. Rick Turner, dean of the Office of African-American Affairs, also noted that few blacks hold positions of authority at UVa.
At a meeting this morning with other deans, the provost and “all the big shots,” Turner said, “I was the only black man in the room.”
“What I said was, ‘Why aren’t there any black folks here?’ You know what I got? A conspiracy of silence,” Turner said.
Others said the two groups — Charlottesville residents and university employees — need to get over standoffish behavior common to both parties to work together for a solution.
“I’m discouraged at the racial geography of the area,” said Corey Walker, a first-year faculty member. “A lot of this is willed ignorance.
“We don’t need a report,” Walker continued. “We don’t need another committee. We need some commitment to follow through on these recommendations.”
Meanwhile, UVa is continuing its discussion of the Lundy case and race relations this week in a variety of forums. President John T. Casteen III sent an e-mail to all students Sunday night giving details about the investigation and the university’s response.
Casteen urged students to call in tips to the UVa police or Crimestoppers, emphasizing the role of the honor system in the university’s “community of trust.” UVa and two civil-rights groups have combined to offer a reward of $22,000 for information leading to an arrest.
An independent review of Student Council election procedures will take place, culminating with a recommendation for reforms.
Several forums for discussion will take place this week, as well as Wednesday’s March against Racial Hatred, sponsored by the UVa School of Law’s Committee for Progress on Race. The walk from the law school will be followed by a candlelight vigil at the Rotunda. "]]>