Albert Baldeo protests the conduct of some police officers in our community, highlighting cases where residents were grabbed from places of worship, interrogated and imprisoned overnight without any reasonable cause, to South Queens Chief, Thomas Dale, who promised to help. Also in photo are Jack Rassbeharry and Joe Iovino, who were instrumental in setting up the meeting, with community activist and TV personality, Roy Ramsaran. Another follow up meeting is being planned.

Many residents in our community of Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and South Ozone Park attended a Town Hall meeting, where Assistant Chief of Police Thomas Dale, the Commanding officer of the Patrol Borough Queens South, Captain Doherty, Officer Kenny Zorn and other officers of the 106th precinct were told about incidents and attitudes stemming from a lack of respect from police officials in our community towards residents. The meeting was organized by Community leader and State senate candidate, attorney Albert Baldeo, real estate broker and producer Roy Ramsarran of the popular RSR ITV Show, Joe Iovino of the Rotary Club, and attorney Trevor Rupnarain, in conjunction with the Police Department. Nearly two hundred people attended, to standing room only. Many had experienced their own unhappy episodes of harassment and victimization by the police at the Naresa Palace, located at 116-14 Rockaway Boulevard, whose owner Mohamed Hakim graciously allowed the use of his facilities at no cost. 

Leading off the discussion, lawyer Albert Baldeo, whose near upset victory during the last election brought hope to many that they will soon have, in him, a representative to attend to the growing community's needs, warned that there is a lack of community sensitivity on the part of the police, who are often arrogant and aloof. "The Guyanese immigrant Damon Mootoo, whose lost and found episode in NY made headlines recently, was afraid to ask police for directions to his home, and nearly died of frost bite as a result.  Police in our community must be sensitive as to the cultural and ethnic differences, and work in partnership with us to solve crimes, deter terrorism and keep an open line of communication. There are too many instances of escalating police harassment. We do not want another Sean Bell incident in our community," Baldeo said. He warned about the dire consequences the bill introduced by present State senator Serf Maltese to legalize racial profiling in our community will cause. "No right thinking person will support such a draconian piece of legislation, and we are sending notice to everyone that we will oppose any law that will make us, hard working taxpayers second class citizens in America. We demand equal treatment under the law, in addition to proper education for our kids, health insurance and jobs. We will condemn and ventilate any form of profiling or discrimination in our community," Baldeo resolutely said to loud applause.

Roy Ramsarran and Trevor Rupnarain, who experienced their own personal incidents of harassment, related the infringements on their constitutional rights and freedoms by illegal stops and searches, and in Ramsarran's case, unlawful imprisonment overnight for no reason. "The police held me overnight for no reason, because I passed the breathalyzer test, but they were power drunk, the type of abusive power you get from wearing a police badge," Ramsarran complained.  Community leaders Mike Persaud, Chuck Mohan, Latchman Budhai and many other residents vociferously highlighted the constant harassment experienced by police officers on Liberty Avenue, like getting tickets when parked safe distances from bus stops, being stopped and threatened for no reason, ordered out of one's car because of "driving while brown," profiled for driving a modern car, and for various other unlawful, biased related reasons. One Guyanese woman related how she was stopped and searched only because she drove a BMW. The officer asked her, "How did you get to drive such a fancy car? Are you in the drugs business?"

Haji Zakir complained that Korean and Chinese merchants breached the sidewalk law by encroaching their goods, but get away with it, whereas Guyanese merchants are targeted for harassment.  Others complained of being stopped and arrested while leaving religious places of worship, and being locked up overnight for no apparent cause. Another resident related how she was recriminated against by an officer because she filed a grievance against him, when he tried to enter her house without a warrant to check for basement violations.

Chief Dale, Captain Doherty and Community Affairs Kenny Zorn were very attentive to the problems raised and promised to look into these matters concerning police misconduct at the 106th Street precinct. Dale actually encouraged members to attend the monthly precinct community meetings and ventilate their grievances, and to join the police force to provide greater diversity. Ramsarran regretted the absence of elected officials at the meeting, "Councilmen Tom White, Joe Addabbo, Assemblywoman Michele Titus and District Leader Taj Rajkumar were invited because we are their constituents, but  they did not even send a representative. I am upset that they did not consider police relations in our community an important issue," Ramsarran said.


Source: West Indian News

  AlbertBaldeo.Com 2005