People from all ethnic and cultural segments of the Richmond Hill community came out to the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue to demand Prashad be returned to the 102nd Precinct that covers the area, where he served for seven years as the community affairs officer.
"We don't want any charges dropped, but if there are charges, make them," said Darmin Bachu, one of Prashad's lawyers. "At least if he was charged, he could defend himself. He's not charged so he's being kept in limbo."
Prashad has been on a modified desk assignment since February, when he was transferred to a housing complex in Brooklyn.
"He's being treated like a murderer or a drug dealer," said Maria Thompson, president of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation. "He sits in a small room and watches television monitors in the Department of Housing. He's being stigmatized."
Police investigators with the Internal Affairs Bureau were continuing to probe allegations against Prashad that claim he took kickbacks from local merchants, distributed parking passes and fast-tracked lost passport claims for residents after a 2002 fire.
The Police Department refused to comment on the case, saying only that it was being investigated.
Prashad, a Guyanese Hindu who lives in Queens Village, earned popularity among the community by bridging the cultural gap between the police precinct and the mostly South Asian neighborhood.
Prashad urged South Asians to discuss crimes that were going unreported, said Mohini Bownoth. He also ensured the sacred Hindu rite of Spring, the Phagwah parade, would be held when the precinct was trying to restrict the event, she said.
"They wanted to discontinue the parade," Bownoth said. "He was the one to stand up and make sure it happened."
Dean McNamee, of the Independent Bikers, said Prashad has helped organize the group's Toys for Tots motorcycle drive each December.
"All seven years, Rudy's been there for us," McNamee said. "He's helped us overcome obstacles so we can give toys to the kids."
But some say it was his popularity that made him a target, although where the allegations came from was still a mystery, said Dhanraj Bhagwandin.
"This is a function of his popularity and service," he said. "This is a political backlash because he was very, very popular."
Protesters carried signs saying "Haitians support Rudy" and the "Caribbean Bar Association supports Rudy," while others chanted "we want Rudy," and "justice delayed is justice denied."
And while the community is fighting the Police Department, they are still working with the 102nd Precinct. At Sunday's rally, one speaker told the crowd to listen to and obey the officers manning the event, saying they were there to protect the protesters.
"The 102nd Precinct is great to us because of Rudy and they're still great to us," Bachu said. "He opened a lot of doors."
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.