"It is clear that the Bloomberg administration is putting politics over public safety," the congressman said outside the main entrance of PS 254 during a news conference before the meeting. Weiner organized the gathering to address the Sikh community's concerns about hate crimes. He pointed out that seven Sikhs have been killed nationwide as the result of hate crimes since Sept. 11, 2001 with 62 such incidents against Sikhs reported in the city following the World Trade Center attacks. A spokesman from the mayor's office said that no such order ever took place. After the Sept. 11, several Queens Sikhs, whose dress is similar to that of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorists, were the victims of hate crimes and suffered serious injuries because they were confused with followers of the terrorist group. Weiner said the police three weeks ago had committed to having a community affairs officer at the meeting to address questions, but they "abruptly backed out" of their commitment May 24. He mentioned that the deputy inspector of the 102nd Precinct, Michael Blake, told him that he would attend, but the plans were called off "by someone above."Blake could not be reached for comment because he was on vacation this week, according to a woman officer at the precinct."If we don't have dialogue, how can we have cooperation?" said Mohinder Singh, a liaison to the Sikh Coalition. In dealing with the issue, Weiner is calling for the Police Department to compile separate hate crime statistics for Sikhs to better document those incidents. Last July a Sikh man from Ozone Park was beaten unconscious outside a Richmond Hill catering hall by five or six men, police said. Following the incident, the Sikh community gathered at the 102nd Precinct hoping to educate the police about their religion and said they thought the police were not doing their best in investigating the beating. The Sikhs also rallied on the steps of City Hall. Five arrests were made in the case. Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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