Archive for the ‘police’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 11, 2013
Five suspects are wanted in the stabbing deaths of two ethnic Karenni men in an argument at a Phoenix, Arizona apartment complex on April 27th. The safety of refugees in many communities in the U.S. where our program resettled them has been a concern of ours for over ten years now. My question is this: if the Language Line is a known tool for communicating in hundreds of languages on short notice, and police today walk with cell phones, why isn’t that method being used in these incidents? Of course refugee resettlement agencies should also issue all refugee cases with a card that lists phone numbers to call in emergencies – including interpreters. Unfortunately many agencies don’t even bother to make sure that their caseworkers give refugees their business cards. An article at The Republiccovers the incident:
Police are still searching for five suspects after two people who gathered to help a family mourn the loss of a loved one were stabbed to death at a Phoenix apartment complex Sunday morning, authorities said Monday.
Phoenix police received a 911 call just after midnight of someone being stabbed at an apartment at 2828 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sgt. Steve Martos said. Arriving officers found two men with stab wounds. Both died at the scene.
Witnesses said the people at the apartment were attending a “Nar Ye Nyi Hmut,” which is a Burmese gathering held before a funeral during which relatives and friends stay overnight and offer grief support to a family who recently lost a loved one.
Police suspect that three teenagers on their way to attend the gathering had an altercation with four male teenagers and one female teenager, police said. The teenagers going to the funeral were able to make it to the apartment and explained what happened. The other teens followed.
Two men at the funeral went outside to try to calm down the teenagers who followed the other teens home, police said. The teenagers stabbed the men to death.
Police consulted with translators to determine what happened because of the Burmese language barrier between police and the approximately 40 to 50 people who were inside the apartment, Martos said.
Police have not identified the victims yet.
The apartment complex largely is populated by people from various Asian countries, including Burma, Nepal and Iraq… Read more here
Additional information about the victims and the suspects is found in a Channel 3 report:
…Police have identified the victims as Ker Reh, 54 and Kay Reh, 24…
…With the assistance of translators, investigators learned that three teenagers between 15 and 16 years old were walking to the apartment complex to join friends and family to mourn the loss of a community member when they were confronted by five teenagers who engaged them in an altercation. Martos said the suspects were four Hispanic males and one Hispanic female.
The three teenagers ran to the apartment where 40 to 50 people were gathered and told two men what had occurred and that they were being chased by the suspects.
Martos said the two men stepped outside of the apartment to try to calm the suspects and prevent further altercation. The suspects then began to stab both men.
All five suspects fled the scene on foot.
Witnesses described the weapon as some type of long metal crowbar-like rod. Police have not confirmed the weapon.
Investigators are asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the suspects. Anyone with information related to this crime is encouraged to call the Phoenix Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit at 602-262-6141 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS to remain anonymous. Read more here
Posted in crime, dangerous neighborhoods, housing, Karenni, language, men, Phoenix, police, safety, teenagers | Tagged: Burma, Burmese, Camelback Road, karenni, Kay Reh, Ker Reh, Myanmar, Phoenix, refugees, resettlement, stabbing | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 6, 2013
In 2010 this blog reported on a case in Abilene, Texas in which a health district employee was accused of sexual assault of IRC refugee woman, then charged and jailed. Apparently after all this time the man has still not been tried in the matter. One of the constitutional rights we supposedly enjoy in this country is the right to a speedy trail, which is a potential concern in this case. Zane Travis in a letter to the Abilene Reporter-News expresses his own concern about the case:
I wish to alert Abilenians to a perceived injustice. You may have noticed recently that the trial for Aloys Nzeyimana was postponed for the 10th time.
Aloys was employed by the Abilene Health District as an interpreter for International Rescue Committee refugees and worked under my supervision and that of the official refugee nurse. For about five years. We watched him help refugees above and beyond expected duties, with kindness and humor. He was active in his church and at local organized refugee information meetings.
In December 2010, he was arrested in a parking lot as he was leaving the health department, apparently accused of sexually assaulting several refugee women. At the time of his arrest, he was held in the parking lot for 50 minutes until the newspaper could get there and take his picture, which was on the front page the next day. His office was quickly searched and contents removed.
His fellow employees (including me) were shocked at the charges. His bail was set at $450,000 — a heroic amount for no reported injuries. Nobody ever went to the E.R. claiming they had been raped or attacked. It is believed that the original charges may have been spurred by a disgruntled stepdaughter, who had been brought here from Africa at Aloys’ expense. Apparently there was a problem finding people who were allegedly hurt by him, since a notice was placed in Swahili on the front page of the paper asking for people to come forward who had been harmed by him… Read more here
Posted in Abilene, court, IRC, police, safety, women | Tagged: Abilene, constitutional, interpreter, IRC, refugees, resettlement, sexual assault, speedy trial | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 23, 2012
An article in the Buffalo News explains how a police officer in that city has taken the initiative to help refugees locally. Each year he joins a clothing drive for refugees, and has even traveled to Burma/Myanmar to see how the refugees from that country live. The article also mentions that refugees in Buffalo are living in code-breaking bungalows (rentals?) and that when they arrive they do not seem to get cold-weather clothing (the State Department contract supposedly requires resettlement agencies to give refugees all needed clothing).
From The Buffalo News:
He got the call a few years ago. A woman was wandering, lost, on Buffalo’s West Side. She did not speak English. The encounter sparked Mike Long’s journey from his South Buffalo roots, more deeply into the streets he patrols, and finally to the Burmese countryside.
A Google search led the Buffalo cop to Jericho Road Ministries, the refugee help center. Within minutes, the lost woman in his patrol car was flanked by translators fluent in Burundi and Swahili. They made sense of the woman’s words. Long drove her home – and knew he needed to better understand her world.
“You never want to impose your beliefs on a people, or feel like you know what is best for them,” he said Friday. “I thought I could better serve the refugees here if I saw where they came from.”
In the spirit of helping, the 37-year-old cop took a reverse-immigrant journey. A friend of a friend had started an orphanage in the Burmese countryside. A few months ago, Long joined a caravan bringing medicine, Crocs and clothes to 35 kids…
…Many refugees who resettle on the West Side – mostly Burmese and brightly garbed Somalis – live in code-busting bungalows…
[Long] also knows what he sees every winter: Recent arrivals, shoulders hunched against the freeze, wearing nothing warmer than a long-sleeved shirt. It is why Long, three years ago, jumped headlong into Jericho Road’s annual clothing drive (www.jrm-buffalo.org)… Read more here
Posted in Buffalo, Burma/Myanmar, clothes, housing, housing, substandard, police | Tagged: Buffalo, Burma, Myanmar, police, refugees, resettlement | 1 Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 26, 2012
Perpetrators have been targeting Burmese refugees in Rochester, NY. The crimes involve muggings and robberies. The crimes are rarely reported due to the refugees’ mistrust of police. A Sudanese refugee was shot to death last may. WUHF-Fox has an article and video report:
Tonight, we bring you the story of a local group of refugees and their struggle to make a home in Rochester.
News 8 has learned members of the Burmese community who’ve settled on Rochester’s Northwest side have been the targets of persistent crime.
We’re talking about crimes like muggings and robberies, most of which go unreported…
An estimated 800 Burmese refugees live in Rochester many near Lake and Dewey Avenues…
It’s a common problem according to Khadin Lee.
As the Refugee Outreach Worker at Lake Avenue Baptist Church, she works closely with many refugees, and has seen the trend increase over the last year.
Lee believes the Burmese are targeted.
“You can see them as different. Our people, they’ve only been here for a short time so you can see them in their traditional costume.”
Virtually no effort has been made to search for, or question these suspects.
That’s because these crimes hardly ever get reported.
In fact, the Rochester Police Department tells me the last crime like this on record, was over a year ago.
Its not surprising to Lee. She added “Those are the people that are corrupted back home, so when they see people in uniform they dont trust them.”
She is working with the community to increase trust in the police, and teach them how to use 911 to get immediate help… Read more here
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, dangerous neighborhoods, police, Rochester, safety | Tagged: Burma, Burmese, muggings, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, robbery, rochester | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 8, 2012
Last September someone scrawled racist, xenophobic graffiti on three Concord refugee family homes in the South End. A community rally was held in support of the families. Now, in a repeat of the malicious harassment, a Somali refugee woman found a message scrawled on several lines of siding underneath her bedroom window describing the family as subhuman. Community members will once again gather to show of support for the refugees and to discourage overt acts like the graffiti, as well as the more common subtle hostility toward immigrants. An article at the Concord Monitor documents the incident:
As she pulled out of her Thompson Street driveway early Sunday morning to go to her job as a housekeeper, the woman quickly spotted it: a message in black permanent marker, scrawled on several lines of siding underneath her bedroom window.
She stopped the car and went back into the house to get her husband and children. The woman, who is originally from Somalia and can’t read or write English, said her children read her the message: “We can not coexist with third world scum,” it began.
“I was not surprised,” the woman, who asked not to be identified, said yesterday evening, standing in her driveway. “I knew it was something bad that they wrote.”
The incident marks the second time in a year that xenophobic graffiti has defaced homes of African families in the South End. In September, graffiti written in black marker appeared on the homes of three refugee families on Perley and Downing streets, with each message describing the families as “subhumans” who weren’t wanted in the community…
“We can not coexist with third world scum,” the message read. “The primitive beasts like those in this house are to blame for the crimes we now suffer. Love your legals, deport the rest.”
O’Malley said the family who lives in the Thompson Street home is here legally and has had no problems with the police. Whoever wrote the graffiti “had no motives we’re aware of, other than just pure racism,” he said.
“We have concerns about this because it clearly is targeting a family,” O’Malley said. “It seems like it’s thought out.”…
The police are asking anyone with information about the graffiti to call the department at 225-8600. Tips may also be shared anonymously with the Concord Regional Crimeline by calling 226-3100, by visiting concordregionalcrimeline.com, or by texting TIP234 and sending a message to CRIMES… Read more here
Posted in New Hampshire, police, Somali, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: concord, graffiti, racism, refugees, resettlement, xenophobia | 4 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 5, 2012
The influx of refugees to rural meatpacking communities in Iowa has produced unprecedented language barriers in rural communities such as Columbus Junction, Marshalltown, Perry and Postville. The refugees are filing a void left by Mexicans and Central Americans after stepped-up enforcement of federal immigration laws and the record number of illegal immigrant deportations in recent years. The refugees represent an unprecedented mix of people with dozens of various languages. Last month, three Myanmar refugee children drowned while swimming in the Iowa river in Marshalltown. Although the police contacted a volunteer Myanmar interpreter to assist the grief-stricken refugee family, but the family and the interpreter spoke different languages. As a result, it took police more than 12 hours to confirm the identities of the children, and delayed funeral arrangements. An article in the Des Moines Register explains:
The face of Iowa’s meatpacking towns is changing once again, as communities that adapted to new residents from Mexico and other Latino countries now see a surge of refugees from Southeast Asia.
The shift has…introduced unprecedented language barriers in these rural communities. But it’s also bolstering rural populations and creating new opportunities for businesses that serve the newcomers…
Over the past 18 months, towns like Columbus Junction, Marshalltown, Perry and Postville have received an influx of refugees, particularly from Myanmar, formerly Burma, a southeast Asian country struggling to establish democracy after years of dictatorship.
The stream of refugees comes at the right time for companies looking for workers…
“What this does is produce a very diverse workforce that’s in the country legally, so we escape all these concerns about the undocumented workforce,” said Mark Grey, a University of Northern Iowa anthropology professor who calls the demographic shift a “post-Latino” immigration era. “Of course, the challenges now have to do with the tremendous diversification of the languages and ethnicities.”
The federal government in recent years has clamped down on illegal immigration, and employers have turned to legal populations such as refugees and residents from U.S. territories in the South Pacific to fill jobs, said Michele Devlin, a UNI public health professor who studies Iowa immigration trends.
The result, she said, is an unprecedented mix of people settling in Iowa from across the globe: Sudanese refugees from a variety of tribes who speak more than 100 languages; refugees from Myanmar, where there are dozens of dialects; and South Pacific islanders fluent in languages spoken by just a few thousand people.
It’s a challenge for cash-strapped small towns and schools to help new residents find a place to live, set up utilities and register children for classes. Even professional telephonic interpreter services sometimes have had trouble finding someone who speaks a language, Devlin said.
The language barriers rarely make headlines until tragedy strikes. In July, three Myanmar refugee children drowned while swimming in a Marshalltown river. The police contacted a volunteer Burmese interpreter to assist the grief-stricken family, but the family and the interpreter spoke different languages. As a result, it took police more than 12 hours to confirm the identities of the children, and longer than normal to arrange funerals.
“It’s not that we just have a vast variety of languages, but many of these languages are classified as rare, and relatively few people speak them in the world,” Devlin said. “What do you do in the event of emergencies or health care or finding a place to live?”… Read more here
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, Columbus Junction, Iowa, language, Marshalltown, meatpacking industry, Perry, police, Postville | Tagged: Burma, Columbus Junction, Iowa, language barrier, Marshalltown, Myanmar, Perry, Postville, refugees, resettlement | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 19, 2012
Last October police shot to death a man who struggled with them after trying to rob a Nepali Bhutanese refugee at a low-income North Side apartment complex where local resettlement agencies have placed them. Another media look into the situation at the apartment complexes shows that many refugees’ apartments have been burglarized since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago. People also walk up to them and ask for money, with some refugees handing over cash just so they’ll be left alone and then not reporting the incidents to police. The article, however, also gives a clue about police-community relations by noting that police arrested a Nepali Bhutanese refugee for littering when he merely dropped a store receipt outside a convenience store. (Arrested for littering?) An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the story:
When Narayan Sharma returned to his North Side apartment on June 6, he was stunned to discover that someone had broken in.
He said he was shocked that the thieves apparently had no fear of being caught when they hauled out his 42-inch television, a laptop computer, a checkbook and cash during the daytime burglary.
Crime, Sharma said, was not a big problem during his 16 years in a refugee camp in the Himalayan country of Nepal. But it’s something he and other Bhutanese Nepali refugees have had to deal with since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago.
One of the reasons is where many of them live — concentrated in several apartment complexes near Morse Road in the Northland area.
“Our expectation is to have safety and security,” said Bhim Basnet, who lives in the Breckenridge Apartments with his wife and four children, the oldest a 16-year-old girl, the youngest a 9-month-old son…
…He said he would like to see police patrolling the area. Community leaders and groups who work with the refugees estimate that their number has grown to more than 2,000 in little more than a year.
Sharma said that a number of refugees’ apartments have been burglarized and that people walk up to the refugees and ask for money. Some refugees hand over cash just so they’ll be left alone, said Damaru Adhikari, who works at the US Together refugee-resettlement agency.
Sharma…said: “They find easy targets, and people don’t complain.”
On Feb. 29, a 35-year-old Bhutanese Nepali refugee was arrested for littering outside a North Side convenience store. He said he dropped a receipt.
The charge, a third-degree misdemeanor, ultimately was dismissed, but the man had to pay $92 in court costs.
The incident “really scared” him, said his attorney, Edward Forman. “I can’t imagine in a million years he would be arrested for that.”… Read more here
Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), dangerous neighborhoods, housing, Nepali Bhutanese, police, US Together | Tagged: bhutanese, Breckenridge Apartments, burglary, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, Nepali, police, refugees, resettlement, US Together | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 21, 2012
Following dire warnings from Israeli government leaders and intense media reporting of rising crime in the south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Shapira, supposedly caused by African asylum-seekers, a journalist set out on a walk through the neighborhood to see for herself the disruption caused by the asylum-seeking so-called “infiltrators”. Yet, she finds the streets strangely calm, the parks clean, and people going about their daily business. Her article is at Haaretz:
A few weeks ago, in a fit of hatred, someone, or some more than one, threw Molotov cocktails at a kindergarten and apartments used by foreign workers in south Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, “causing significant property damage but no injuries or loss of life,” in journalese.
This week I took a walk in Shapira. It was Wednesday, the day after the demonstrators returned – some protesting government policy on labor migrants, others against the migrants themselves and still others expressing solidarity with them and denouncing racism…
…I am no stranger to Shapira, having visited it on a few occasions to walk around, to check out housing options, to visit friends, but this was the first time I came to see “the other.”…
…The parks are clean. The main park, built after a battle by residents, on the site of a transformer station, is enviable – well-maintained lawns, a beautiful, shaded wood, the latest sports and playground equipment.
“Well, the city makes sure to keep it clean because of the situation, that’s why it’s clean,” a… neighborhood activist says. We’ll call him B.
The park is calm this afternoon, and no one is sleeping on the slide – “You come with your kid and oops, someone’s sleeping there,” says B. It happens in central Tel Aviv, too.
An African woman, smiling and nicely dressed, pushes three sweet, cared-for children. The baby, adorable in a white dress, laughs at her siblings…
…I get on my bike to look for the things that N. and B. mentioned: people living in the street, cooking in the street, urinating and defecating in the street and in parks; people gathering in large groups; people drinking.
I believe N. and B., but I can’t find evidence of such behavior. The neighborhood seems empty, sleepy… Read more here
Yet Israeli government officials and the police claim that the African asylum-seekers account for 40 percent of Tel Aviv’s crimes. Really? According to another article at +972mag police crime data shows that the crime rate among foreigners in Israel stood at 2.04 percent in 2010, compared with 4.99 percent among Israelis:
Several Sudanese and Eritrean nationals were recently arrested in two separate cases involving the rape of Israeli women and the murder of an Eritrean woman. The media extensively covered these horrible crimes, followed by a long line of politicians quoting frightening police claims that Africans account for 40 percent of Tel Aviv’s crimes. Those politicians are led by Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who dared to say in an interview this week that most “African infiltrators are criminals.”
The press similarly reported in early May that “asylum seekers are involved in 40 percent of crimes,” relying on police figures recently presented to the government. This statistic is shocking, but not as shocking as the fact that senior Israel Police officers are willing to tell lies in an effort to gain a chunk of the huge budget that the government has allotted to the war against African refugees.
Real police data, presented in a meeting held by the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers on March 19, indicate that the crime rate among foreigners in Israel stood at 2.24 percent in 2011 (1,223 criminal cases out of a total of 54,497 foreigners)…
The 2011 data on Israeli crime has not yet been published, but according to police data reported to the Knesset, the crime rate among the general population in Israel stood at 4.99 percent in 2010. This figure demonstrates that the general crime rate in Israel is more than double that of Africans in Israel… Read more here
Posted in police, right-wing, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: asylees, asylum-seekers, israel, migrants, refugees, resettlement, Shapira | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 18, 2012
Denver police say a group that killed Sudanese refugee Jimma Reat were out on a night of car theft and trouble-making, and included two unspecified juvenile gang members (it was the Latin Kings gang that attacked Sudanese refugees in 2002 in Chicago). The Denver 911 director has now fired a 911 operator for withholding medical assistance from one of the Sudanese callers, who repeatedly asked for medical aid, and wrongly telling him to return to the scene of the first incident, where Reet was then killed. An article in the Denver Post (and here) has updated information on the case:
Denver police believe a group that included two juvenile gang members out on a night of car theft and troublemaking killed Sudanese refugee Jimma Reat.
No arrests have been made in the case. Police are asking for the public’s help in locating witnesses or others involved in the shooting in the early hours of April 1.
Reat, 25, was shot in the back blocks from West 10th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard in Denver, where he and other members of his family were taunted by a group of Latino men driving a stolen Jeep who threw bottles and waved a gun at their vehicle.
After the altercation, Reat and his family went to their apartment in Wheat Ridge. A 911 operator told them to return to Denver, where they were fired upon by the same group that had attacked them moments before.
Denver 911 director Carl Simpson on Tuesday fired the operator for mishandling the call.
“Witnesses say there were four or five parties in the vehicle,” Detective Randy Denison said of the suspects’ car. “What we are looking for is to identify the other possible occupants.”
The occupants of the Jeep didn’t flash gang signs or tout any gang affiliation, but the criminal history of the two teens now suspected suggests they are gang members, Denison said. He said he didn’t know whether one of them — or someone else in the Jeep — fired the fatal shot…
…Reat and his companions didn’t see the Jeep until it pulled up beside them at a light. “There was not much conversation. The brothers say these guys just pull up beside them, and they think they are just saying, ‘Hello,’ and Jimma and his friends just kind of wave. They just think these guys are just giving them the nod,” Denison said… Read more here
Posted in Denver, police, safety, South Sudanese | Tagged: 9/11, car theft, Denver, gang, Jimma Reat, police, refugees, resettlement, sudanese | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 6, 2012
Last summer three Eritrean refugees were arrested after they tried to board an airplane, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport going to Des Moines, with a carry-on bag that contained a broken cellphone taped to a tin of helva (a sesame-paste-based food flavored with vanilla). The charges? Having a “hoax device” and “conspiracy” to obtain a hoax device. The three tried to explain that they were just trying to take candy and the old phone to friends. Authorities claimed, however – via questionable reasoning – that the three were attempting to do a trial run to see if they could get a “real bomb” through security, since this was assuredly not a real bomb (helva is not explosive, nor were there any fake wires or a fake detonation device attached). The authorities also deemed suspicious the three traveling in the month of August, being so close to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, you see – and besides, everyone knows that cell phones are used to detonate bombs. Surely the refugees must have carried aboard a broken cell phone during this “dry run” to fool authorities into thinking that it could not be used to trigger a detonator. But what about that tin of helva, that was suspicious wasn’t it? Well, helva it turns out is an Eritrean ethnic food. Maybe they were trying to trick authorities into thinking the helva was not suspicious since Eritreans are known to eat helva. Plus, some might say it would be nitpicking to point out that federal agents, in first contacts with the Eritrean refugees, used an interpreter that did not speak their Kunama language, thus leading to faulty linguistic interpretations.
Now the three are trying to overcome the false “terrorist” label affixed to them in public opinion. This smear is now an obstacle to employment, nine months later, and months after all charges were suddenly dropped. An article in The Republic looks at the aftermath of the false charges:
Civil war drove Shullu Gorado from his home in Eritrea, a small country on the Horn of Africa, and landed him — like most Kunama — in a refugee camp in neighboring Ethiopia.
Ethiopia was no kinder to the refugees than their war-torn homeland, but the United States welcomed the Kunama people, promising safety and the opportunity for a new life to the former farmers and shepherds. In four years,Gorado rose steadily through the ranks at a local supermarket, stashing away savings and taking general-education and English-language classes as he worked toward a new future in a new country.
But after being arrested on suspicion of plotting to sneak a hoax explosive device through airport security, serving two months in a federal detention facility, then having the charges against him dropped in December, Gorado and Asa Shani are branded as terrorists in the eyes of many. Among those viewing them with suspicion, they say, are prospective employers who need only perform a perfunctory Internet search to find coverage of their arrests… Read more here
Posted in Eritrean, FBI, Phoenix, police, security/terrorism | Tagged: bomb, Eritrean, false charges, FBI, helva, Phoenix, refugees, resettlement, terrorism | 1 Comment »