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Implications of expanding Indian success in the west

Charges Dropped in Herricks Case


Published: July 11, 2004



Nearly two years after 19 Asian Indian students were arrested on charges of criminal trespassing on a Herricks ball field, all charges have been dismissed. Judge Margaret Reilly of Nassau County First District Court dismissed charges against the four remaining defendants last week on the ground that they had not been granted a speedy trial.

Though the criminal case is closed, the Nassau Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represents the students, is pursuing a civil suit against the Nassau County Police Department and the Herricks schools superintendent, contending that the students were victims of racial profiling.

''All of the teens arrested were of Asian Indian heritage and were dark skinned,'' said Barbara Bernstein, executive director of the chapter. ''While white students were present on the ball field that day, none of them were arrested. For almost two years, these kids have been put through torture from being cast as criminals. They were treated with rudeness when they did nothing wrong. This was clearly a case of racial profiling that should have been settled as a school problem and should never have gone to the courts.''

Acting on complaints from Herricks school officials, Nassau police officers arrested 19 youths, including six juveniles, on charges of criminal trespassing on the playground of Center Street Elementary School after school hours on Oct. 25, 2002. Shortly afterward, John Bierwirth, the Herricks superintendent, called it ''a shame that tore the community apart and that should not have snowballed as it did.'' But Ms. Bernstein argued that Dr. Bierwirth was responsible for the arrest of the students, who were taken away in handcuffs and spent several hours locked up at the police precinct.

A year ago, Judge Lea Ruskin of Nassau County District Court dismissed the charges of disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing on grounds of insufficient evidence. When the district attorney's office sought to present the charges to a grand jury again, Judge Raskin declined to grant permission. Nevertheless, the district attorney's office brought the same charges against four of the students who had returned to the ball fields after being told to leave school property. With no new evidence, Judge Reilly dismissed the charges last week. LINDA SASLOW

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Implications of expanding Indian success in the west - by G.Subramaniam - 01-08-2014, 04:58 PM

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