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Community wants a stop to violent crimes

With a bandage and plastic eye cover over his left eye, Jasmir Singh stood next to community leaders at Elmhurst Hospital to denounce the recent violence around Queens and the city.
Singh, a 21-year-old member of the Sikh community, sustained injuries after three young men stabbed him in the eye on Sunday, January 18. He became the third victim of violent attacks in Northwest Queens in the span of a week - one which resulted in the death of an 18-year-old Manhattan man stabbed in the chest by rival gang members.
“Enough is enough, we are not going to tolerate these crimes,” said Assemblymember Jos/ Peralta, who hopes to encourage citizens and community organizations to start neighborhood block associations, and to work with the Guardian Angels and the police.
“It is irresponsible, unnecessary, and unacceptable,” he said.
However, despite a decade-long decline in crime rates across the city, the past few months have seen a spurt in a particular type of crime - hate and biased assaults in the most diverse city in the world.
“I usually feel real safe walking around this neighborhood,” said Singh, who called the police from inside a convenience store after his attackers threatened to cut his hair and beard, both sacred aspects of Sikh religion. Minutes later the suspects dragged him into the streets and proceeded to stab him with broken glass.
“It is disappointing that this could happen to me in my neighborhood,” he said. A hospital official said that the prognosis does not look good that Singh’s vision in his left eye could be saved.
An associate attorney with United Sikhs, who represent the victim, said that while the police have caught and charged two out of the three men with assault and robbery, both serious felony crimes, they urged the police and the district attorney to investigate this as a hate crime.
Under the New York State law, a person can be prosecuted for a hate crime if they intentionally target someone for “religion” and “religious practice.” However, when asked, the attorney said that Singh did not have on a turban at the time of the attack.
To put an end to this and all kinds of violence, or at least reverse the growing trend, advocates in a diverse cross section of the community have taken a stand and plan to start more neighborhood watch groups.
“It is about all of us being out there,” said Arnaldo Salinas, Director of the Guardian Angels. “Everyone can do something to prevent this from happening again.”

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