BY JAMES FARRELL
An assault on a Bangladeshi immigrant should be prosecuted as a hate crime, attorney Ali Najmi argued on Monday at a press conference in front of the Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens.
Immigrant Gazi Rahman was allegedly assaulted by a stranger, later identified as a man named Christopher Porr, while talking on his cell phone on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica back in May. Rahman suffered a broken nose, and witnesses’ pictures showed a significant amount of blood at the scene. Immediately after the attack, both Rahman and Porr were arrested for assault and released on desk appearance tickets. However, at the press conference, Najmi pointed to newly uncovered NYPD surveillance footage that he said exonerates Rahman of wrongdoing. Najmi added that witness testimony – which included several accounts of Porr’s shouting “F**k Indians” as he attacked Rahman – shows that the attack should be tried as a hate crime.
Najmi said that he had shared copies of the video, witness testimonies and pictures of Rahman’s injuries at a July 8 court date at the Kew Gardens Criminal Court. Since then, Najmi added, the Queens District Attorney’s office said they would drop the charges against Rahman, but there was no word yet as to whether they would prosecute the incident as a hate crime.
“We are here gathered today, as a community, to make a statement that we absolutely believe this amounts to a hate crime,” Najmi said, surrounded by Rahman and a number of eyewitnesses, one of whom was holding a blown-up picture of Rahman bleeding on the sidewalk.
Najmi pointed to Porr’s social media presence, claiming that it showed Porr is an “avid supporter of Donald Trump,” anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim. After the conference, he Tweeted snapshots of Poor’s Facebook account, which included a number of posts in support of Trump and about Muslims. One post read, “As long as there’s one homeless child in America, we have no room for Muslim refugees.” Another read, “I don’t think it’s fair to put illegal immigrants ahead of the American worker.”
Said Najmi, “In an era of racial incitement that we live in, and the political environment that we are unfortunately living through, we have come together as a community to say that we will absolutely not tolerate any hate crimes, especially in the county of Queens, and that we are calling on the office of the Queens District Attorney to take this matter very seriously and to prosecute it accordingly.”
Najmi also added that both parties were offered a cross-dismissal, where both cases would be dismissed, but that he turned it down. He said that he believes a prison sentence would be appropriate.
At the scene, Porr made a statement that Rahman had assaulted him, and in those cases, it is common for the police to arrest both parties,
Najmi said. However, Najmi expressed frustration that the arrest had happened, and even more so that Porr was released on a desk appearance ticket, which Najmi said is not appropriate for a hate crime. Meanwhile, the video shows a man, allegedly Rahman, speaking on the phone when another man, allegedly Porr, approaches him and says something. There is no audio in the video, but after Rahman appears to dismiss Porr, Porr shoves Rahman and a fight breaks out, which ends after Porr punches Rahman, knocking him to the ground.
Rahman said that Porr approached him asking for money and attacked him after Rahman rebuffed his request. Witness Glen Rozado, present at the press conference, corroborated Rahman’s claims that Porr yelled either “f**k Indians” or “f**king Indian” during the fight, and added that he tried to explain to police that Porr had started the fight.
“They weren’t that interested to listen to what I say,” Rozado said of the NYPD.
Rahman added that he was still shaken after the attack.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400, email@example.com, or @farrellj329.