[Reader-list] Rakesh Sharma vs NYPD : Please sign the petition

iram at sarai.net iram at sarai.net
Mon Jun 13 09:51:38 IST 2005

Subject:Fwd: Rakesh Sharma vs NYPD : Please sign the petition
From:anusha rizvi <anusharizvi at yahoo.com>
Date:Fri, 10 Jun 2005 07:28:35 +0100 (BST)
To:reader-list at sarai.net


    Subject: Rakesh Sharma vs NYPD : Please sign the petition

    Enclosed below is the text of a petition to be sent to authorities in
New York, Washington DC and New Delhi to protest against Rakesh Sharma's
harrowing experience with cops from NYPD. His seems to be a clear case of
racial profiling, which, inspite of explicit denials by the US
establishment, is a rampant practice. Please lend your support by raising
your voice against harassment of individuals through draconian powers being
exercised by the US law enforcement agencies in the name of War on Terror.
Please sign the petition by going to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/980334649 . Please circulate this petition to others in your addressbook as well.


    Petition text :  

    We are shocked to hear about the intimidation and harassment faced by
the well-known Indian film-maker Rakesh Sharma in New York on May 13, 2005.
NYPD personnel 'detained and interrogated' him for 3 hours and subjected
him to verbal and physical abuse. The details of the incident can be found
in the formal complaint filed by him on May 16, 2005 with The Civilian
Complaint Review Board, New York. (http://rakeshfilm.com/NYPD/index.htm)


    Mr. Rakesh Sharma has been traveling in several countries including USA
to screen his film – Final Solution ( http://www.rakeshfilm.com/finalsolution.htm). The film has been screened at over 60 international film festivals and has won over a dozen awards. On May 12, 2005, he was invited to present his film in New York at a screening co-organized by Columbia University and New School. As is clear from the sequence of events, the next day, Mr. Sharma was taking street shots of traffic in Manhattan, less than a block away from his hotel, when an NYPD detec tive accosted him. Even though Mr. Sharma answered each query, produced his identification papers and offered to put the detective in touch with his hosts in New York, he had to face hostile questioning, threats and public humiliation. The detective confiscated his passport, physically pushed him, snatched his camera and among other things said to him: "We know how to deal with you guys, asshole", clearly a racist remark. Though Mr. Sharma was not formally arrested, he was not free to leave, not allowed to make any phone calls and was 'interrogated' by 2 more sets of officers. Finally, detectives of the 'cold case squad' at the 17th precinct illegally previewed the footage shot by him even after his identity had firmly and formally been established.


    We would like to register a strong protest against the NYPD and urge
you to immediately conduct an enquiry into the episode. We find the ethic
of interrogation adopted by the NYPD to be violent, insidious and
oppressive . We feel that the NYPD not just violated several of Mr.
Sharma's rights but may possibly have indulged in racial profiling.
According to Mr. Sharma – " Perhaps I was accosted and interrogated
because of my brown skin, my beard and the fact that I had a camera". We
urge the United States Department of Justice through its Civil Rights
Division to respond, especially in view of its " Initiative to Combat
Post-9/11 Discrimina tory Backlash".


    Mayor Bloomberg, we urge you to take immediate punitive action against
officers responsible for the incident. We hope that a formal apology will
be tendered to Mr. Sharma and due compensation will be offered to him for
the mental and physical distress suffered by him. May we also urge you to
take formal steps to ensure that visitors to New York City are not
subjected to such harassment and intimidation by NYPD in the future.


    We would like directives to be issued to law enforcement agencies to
put an immediate stop to the practice of racial profiling. We oppose and
resist the perpetuation of newer and more grotesque forms of violence by
state agencies in the name of national security and protest strongly
against the consequent violation of peoples' civil liberties and legal
rights. May we suggest that such actions are not just an assault on the US
Constitution but on the very concepts of liberty and freedom of expression.


More information about the reader-list mailing list