NY Guyanese join rally against ethnic crime
By Vishnu Bisram
July 24, 2004
Several Guyanese joined other ethnic-Americans last week at a rally against ethnically biased crimes in Richmond Hill.
The rally followed the beating of a Sikh priest by several racist Whites in the heart of Richmond Hill where over 100,000 Guyanese are settled.
Rajinder Singh, President of a Sikh organisation in Richmond Hill, suffered multiple cuts, bruises and a broken nose in what the police described "as a biased crime and a recurring event in Richmond Hill."
Reports said five drunk White males emerged from the posh Italian-owned Dela Rousseau Restaurant on Lefferts Boulevard and approached Singh ordering him to turn over the "bedsheet" on his head (a reference to his turban, a religious symbol of devout Sikhs). Singh refused and the men pounced on him.
Only one of the attackers has been arrested even though the police have the licence number of the getaway car.
Protesters picketed the police station in Richmond Hill demanding justice for the victim.
Guyanese community leaders have said that the only difference between the attack on September 11 and the attack on minorities is the magnitude of the former. "The attackers have hatred in their hearts and must be condemned and brought to justice", said Mike Persaud, a community organiser.
Chuck Mohan, president of Guya-nese American Workers United, in a statement condemned "the wanton act of xenophobic violence perpetrated by the men".
The Guyanese community has come under fire by the Guyanese ethnic media for not playing a more active role in condemning the attack and turning out in massive numbers at the rally. In an editorial, the Caribbean New Yorker wrote: "It is a disturbing trend in Richmond Hill for community members to sit idly by when citizens are attacked and not speak out".
Members of New York City Council held a press conference denouncing the attacks on minorities in an area of Queens where Guyanese are heavily concentrated. The council issued a statement saying that it will not stand "for such blatant hatred." An apology was tendered to the victim on behalf of the city.
Since September 11, Sikhs have become prime targets of hate crimes for wearing turbans which lead to the confusion that they are Talibans, the dreaded former rulers of Afghanistan.
Many Indo-Guyanese were also attacked after September 11. A few years ago, Rishi Maharaj was brutalised by three Whites for walking through a White neighbourhood.