Officer Allegedly Beat Man, Called Him Anti-Muslim Slurs
Washington, DC — Today, Muslim Advocates called for New York City police officer Riggs Kwong to be fired. Kwong has been charged by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez for assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and aggravated harassment after the off-duty officer attacked a 32-year-old driver who allegedly cut off Kwong’s car.
On Jan. 16, in Brooklyn’s Kensington neighborhood, Kwong allegedly filmed himself saying to the unnamed driver, “I’m trying to make a left here on the service road and this terrorist is terrorizing me, you’re upset because I didn’t let you make a U-turn, Mr. Mohammed … Al Qaeda, Terrorist, ISIS.” After the driver allegedly exited his vehicle to take a photo of Kwon’s license plate, Kwong followed suit and spat on the driver. When the driver spat back, Kwong allegedly punched the driver repeatedly, knocking him to the ground and leaving him unconscious.
The following is a statement from Muslim Advocates Senior Policy Counsel Sumayyah Waheed:
“We welcome Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s hate crime charges in this anti-Muslim attack but even these actions could still leave Kwong on the force and would leave New York City’s Muslim communities feeling unsafe in their own city. The New York Police Department needs to demonstrate that it has zero tolerance for anti-Muslim hate by immediately firing Kwong. While Kwong was off-duty during this altercation, he spends much of his time armed by the NYPD. An officer who harbors this kind of hate and so willingly deploys violence and anti-Muslim stereotypes should not be on the force.
Muslim Advocates is also calling for a thorough investigation of the incident by the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Officer Kwong has a history of CCRB complaints but so far has only been disciplined for utilizing counterfeit postage. A thorough review of his alleged anti-Muslim conduct with a strong, appropriate finding could send a needed message that the board values the well-being of people as well as objects.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has long been a problem in the NYPD. Muslim Advocates —alongside the Center for Constitutional Rights and the law firm of Gibbons, P.C.—previously sued the department for spying on Muslims at New York and New Jersey mosques, restaurants, schools and university student associations simply because of their faith. If the NYPD hopes to rebuild trust with New York’s Muslim communities, it can begin by making it clear that it does not tolerate anti-Muslim hate by firing officer Kwong.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.