I belong to a group called INSAF (International South Asia Forum). We are sponsoring a Candlelight Walk and Vigil in Jackson Heights, Queens which is a major retail shopping enclave for South Asian Americans in the tri-state area(NY, NJ, CT).
We have spent the last three days making endless preparations for the event. I called two police precincts and received the go ahead with no permit needed. I have made over fifty telephone calls to various media organizations, alerting them to cover the event. We will walk on the sidewalks bearing lighted candles and displaying the red white and blue. This will be a silent procession carrying the INSAF banner.
We will light our candles to:
Mourn the Dead
Support the Grieving
Hope for the Missing
Express Outrage over the repeated Violence against South Asian Americans acrooss the United States in the past several days.
A man walked into a gas station in Arizona and shot a Sikh ASmerican dead. The man when arrested
said “I am a damn American all the way.” Fortunately this is one incident and we want to avert any more.
I have been having a running email dialogue with Savitha Janakiraman, Domestic Policy Advisor to Representative Joseph Crowley who represents the 7th Congressional District, which includes Jackson Heights.Here are some excerpts:
This is the time for every South Asian to showcourage. To appear in public. To show our faces. To
speak our thoughts aloud. To be patriotic South AsianAmericans who love America.
But also to point out some of the injustices of US foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia.
But for NOW at this event on 9/22/01 — we are grieving for the bereaved, mourning for the dead and hoping that more may be found alive.
p.s. I think we would be happy to post a letter fromRepresentative Crowley to INSAF@yahoogroups.com
What do you think?
I too am very concerned about the rise in Hate Crimes this past week, and to be honest, I don’t know what to do. I really think that the government has been unusually responsive. Congress has put forth legislation condemning the violence and hatred and intolerance against anyone… The Attorney General has condemned the crimes and will probably est. a taskforce in the next week or so once they have the resources, the President has unequivocally condemned the crimes and has visited a mosque, the media has (I think) done an amazing job of highlighting the hate crimes that have occurred– interviewing
Sikhs that have been harassed on prime time, including slow footage of candlelight vigils with South Asians and Arabs honoring the victims…even Bill O’Reilly has condemned the racism, and that’s says a lot to me…I think national institutions are more sensitive now then they were prior to the explosion.
The people though–that’s a different story and that’s what concerns me. Despite all this, we still have a big problem on our hands and I don’t know what to do. People like my boss are very interested in attacking this problem and trying to make a dent in people’s thick heads. I’ve lived in this country my whole life and people avert their eyes when they see me. I’m paranoid about wearing my badge at work when I never was before, b/c in DC tensions are thick enough to cut with a knife and I don’t want any mistakes to happen when it’s my life. So how to deal with this? Legislation and taskforces are not going to make the problem go away…education? In the schools? Community dialogues?
What are your thoughts?
We are assembling at 73rd and Broadway a little before 6. Very very sorry to hear about Congressman Crowley’s personal loss. We have also lost a family member at INSAF. We grieve for every person dead or missing in NY, DC, PA, AZ and elsewhere. We grieve for the innocent Afghanis here and in Afghanistan and Arab-Americans.
The violence against South Asian Americans across the US is increasing and we are very concerned.