Victims and witnesses to hate crimes should report the attack to police and civil rights organizations, said Christina Elhaddad, an immigrant justice court fellow at the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY).
Elhaddad was speaking at NYU Law School’s Immigrant Rights Teach-In on November 28, just days after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo created a special police task force to fight the surge of hate crime in the city.
According to the New York Police Department, hate crimes in New York have increased 31% from last year, predominately against Muslims.
During his election campaign, President Elect Donald Trump proposed to ban all Muslims from coming to the United States, and a week ago, Kansas secretary of state and cabinet potential, Kris Kobach, was photographed with documents outlining plans to create a registry for Muslims.
All this is creating special concern in the Muslim and Arab immigrant community, Elhaddad said.
“If you are the victim of a hate crime, you have to report it to law enforcement. Even if you are not the victim, if you are a bystander, play an active role in helping the victim report the incident,” she added.
Victims and witnesses should report the crime to a local or national civil rights organizations whose job it is to track hate crimes, especially if the victim is afraid to go to the police.
“We saw a surge of surveillance after 9/11 and the NYPD asked Muslims to spy on their friends and brothers. That has decreased over the years…but still, there is a fear it could get worse in the future,” said Elhaddad.
Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, the Council on American–Islamic Relations and Arab American grassroots civil rights organization the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee are both known for monitoring hate crimes that are committed against Arabs and Muslims.
Meanwhile, the AAANY recently launched the “Yes, I’ll accompany my neighbor,” project, which allows New Yorkers to volunteer to accompany anyone who may be fearful of travelling across the city alone. The project garnered over 6,000 volunteers in the first four days.
Photo via sylvar/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)