Council Member Miller, Community Organizations in Safety Dialogue With the Police Department
By Mohamed Alim Hassim
NEW YORK — Officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD) in Queens have reiterated their commitment to continue to partner with local organizations and community leaders to ensure maximum safety of residents in the communities they serve.
This pledge comes as a timely reassurance to members of the Muslim community who are preparing for the Holy Month of Ramadan, which commences in a few days. Muslims have been among the targets of bias attacks in the recent past, and this trend tend to escalate in Ramadan, when large numbers of Muslims attend mosques and sometimes return home late at nights.
The commitment from the NYPD was made on Wednesday April 25th, at a ‘Pre-Ramadan Safety and Security Dialogue on Places of Worship, Congregants and Community’.
The event was organized by City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (27th District), the Interfaith Council for Cummunity Development (ICCD), Jawda Institute, Muslim Cultural Center of Queens, NYPD Muslim Officers Society, Pakistani American Community of Long Island and the Indian Diaspora Council (IDC). It was hosted and catered by Bosnian Islamic Community Center on 114 Street in Richmond Hill, Queens.
Council Member Miller thanked all the organizations and individuals who were part of the coalition that organized the dialogue to ensure “a safe and prosperous Ramadan.”
“It has taken a number of years to put everybody together,” he said, singling out Dr Mohamed Hack of the ICCD and the Queens Borough President’s Office, and Mr Akshar Patel of his office for being instrumental in making the meeting a reality.
He thanked the NYPD and community leaders, noting, “Your leadership is going to ensure that our community has a prosperous and fruitful Ramadan season.”
Assemblyman David Weprin (District 24), in brief remarks, noted, “It is so important that we have these types of dialogues, and one of the wonderful things about this area and all of Queens is that we are very proud of our relationship with our local police precincts.”
The assemblyman added, “Ramadan is coming upon us and I really want to thank the NYPD for these types of programs and for working so closely with my community.”
He noted, “We all have to speak up loudly and clearly whenever there is a hate crime against any community. We have to be vigilant. I want to thank the NYPD for their vigilance.”
Dr Hack, in his introductory remarks, also stressed the urgency that his organization and all those involved, place on ensuring a safe community, free of bias attacks. He pointed out that these dialogues are not only for the Muslim community but for persons of all faiths and religious/cultural backgrounds.
Hack urged community members to get more involved by attending monthly community board meetings with the police.
Sergeant Bilal Ishaq of Queens South Community Affairs, spoke to the gathering about NYPD safety precautions for Ramadan. He noted that the community affairs office will be in constant contact with local community and religious leaders, and mosques, so that if there are any concerns, the information will be shared with the respective precincts, and officers will respond appropriately. He said officers will be making frequent and random visits to mosques on a 24-hour basis.
“I’d like to remind you that if you see something, say something,” Sgt Ishak urged.
He noted that the NYPD takes hate crimes seriously and urged persons to call the hate crime task force at 212-477-9879 if they feel they are victims.
Dr Fiazudeen Shuayd, President of Jawda Institute, in his remarks, addressed the need to promote security of places of worship, “not only mosques but all places of worship.”
He added, “We have to double our efforts to reject all enmity, hatred and strife. And it important that we have this awareness and engagement across the board.”
Mr Latchman Budhai, President of the 102nd Precinct Community Council, reminded the gathering, by quoting from the Hindu scripture, that “the world is a friend to everyone, not just a few.”
The event was moderated by renowned TV/Radio broadcaster Arsalan Mohamed and opened with a prayer by Imam Zameer Sattaur, followed by remarks by Reverend Brian Ellis-Gibbs.
A number of NYPD officers and other notable personalities were honored at the event. The main awardees were NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, NYPD Queens South Chief David Barrere and Dr Sarah Sayeed of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs. Commissioner O’Neill and Chief Barrere were unable to attend. Their awards will be presented at their respectives offices.
Several other officers were recognized and presented with citations and proclammations. Among them were Inspector Deodat Urprasad of Patrol Borough Queens South (former commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct).
Representatives from various city agencies and departments were present and spoke about services they offer and how their agencies can work with the Muslim community during Ramadan.
Ms Aliyah Latif, manager of immigrant affairs of the NYC Comptroller’s Office, also addressed the event. Among the subjects she touched on was a report recently issued by Comptroller Scott Stringer, calling for a public-private partnership to help cover the cost of rising application fees for the naturalization process.
“In the immigrant capital of the world, income should not be a reason why someone should not be protected and become a citizen of this great United States. And as such the comptroller is pushing forward this initiative in hopes that we can naturalize more persons in the immigrant communities,” Latif said.
She reminded the gathering that they should “always know that you have a friend in the Comptroller’s office. Use me as a resource.”
Closing remarks were given by Ms Ayedah, of the Bosnian Islamic Community Center, who gave a background to her organization and the struggles of her people as they escaped genocide and started a new life in the United States. She called on the gathering to work together to fight injustice, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, saying “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
She added, “Your presence here tonight makes me feel hopeful and enthusiastic that this dialogue will bridge our differences and bring much wanted results.”
More photos from the event: