Over the last few days the United States grapples with the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by a policeman. The racial profiling, violence and brutality are rightly condemned by one and all. FEZANA put out a statement today that echoes the sentiments of Zarathushtis of North America.
The Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America (“FEZANA”) offers its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Mr. George Floyd. We stand in solidarity with Black and other communities of color, with Minneapolis, and with all those who are grieving Mr. Floyd’s loss and the absence of justice in their respective communities.
Mr. Floyd’s killing violates our most dearly-held values of equality, human rights and the sanctity of human life. The violence and callous disregard for a precious human life demonstrated by his killers must not and cannot be tolerated. We unequivocally condemn racial profiling, violence and brutality in all its forms, and join all people of conscience in calling for accountability and justice.
At this moment, it would be worthwhile to remember that just a generation ago, a Parsi Zarathushti by the name of Navroze Mody was murdered by the Dotbusters, who were wreaking havoc in New Jersey around 1987.
The Dotbusters was a hate group in Jersey City, New Jersey, that attacked and threatened Indians, particularly Hindus in the fall of 1987. The name originated from the fact that traditional Hindu women and girls wear Bindis on their foreheads.
“Look, let’s cutout the small talk…if I am walking down the street and I see a Hindu and the setting is right, I will just hit him or her.“
-From a pamphlet circulated by Dotbusters, the racist gang terrorising Indians in the Jersey City area near New York.
In July 1987, they had a letter published in The Jersey Journal stating that they would take any means necessary to drive the Indians out of Jersey City.
In October 1987, a group of youths attacked Navroze Mody, an Indian man of Parsi origin, who was mistaken for a Hindu, after he had left the Gold Coast Cafe with his friend who fell into a coma. Mody died four days later. The four convicted of the attack were Luis Acevedo, Ralph Gonzalez and Luis Padilla – who were convicted of aggravated assault; and William Acevedo – who was convicted of simple assault. The attack was with fists and feet and with an unknown object that was described as either a baseball bat or a brick, and occurred after members of the group, which was estimated as being between ten and twelve youths, had surrounded Mr. Mody and taunted him for his baldness as either “Kojak” or “baldie”. Mody’s father, Jamshid Mody, later brought charges against the city and police force of Hoboken, New Jersey, claiming that “the Hoboken police’s indifference to acts of violence perpetrated against Asian Indians violated Navroze Mody’s equal protection rights” under the Fourteenth Amendment. Mody lost the case; the court ruled that the attack had not been proven a hate crime, nor had there been proven any malfeasance by the police or prosecutors of the city (Court Verdict)
The New York Times on October 12, 1983 in a frontpage article writes…
In recent weeks, City Hall moved to increase police investigations of anti-Indian violence and the Dotbusters’ letter, Mr. Cucci said. The Federal Department of Justice is in town to ”assist and review” the local investigations, he added. On Wednesday, a special state police van will tour troubled neighborhoods to teach people how to better get along with each other.
As for the Dotbusters, Mr. Cucci said: ”I feel that it is a very small group hoping to attract others to their philosophy, certainly a very ugly philosophy. We are not going to tolerate it.”
Outside City Hall, Indians here said they wonder when and where the violence will end. For most, it started two weeks ago in Hoboken.
On Sept. 27, Navroze Mody, 30, of Jersey City, decided to go to Hoboken for a drink with a non-Indian business friend. Mr. Mody recently been named a manager in the credit card division of CitiCorp in Manhattan, recalled Mr. Mody’s father, Jamshid R. Mody.
But late that night when Mr. Mody’s elderly parents returned to the home they share with their only son, they received a telephone call. He had been hospitalized. Mr. Mody had been mugged by a group of youths after leaving the Gold Coast Cafe with his friend. The friend was not injured.
He had been beaten into a coma. Four days later, he was dead. ”I have been unable to understand how this could happen,” said Mr. Mody, 73, who with his wife, lives on social security. ”He was our tower of strength.”
INDIA Today in an article in 1987 writes…
Just how nasty these gangs can be was proved more than once in recent weeks. If just one Indian has died so far, it is due to good luck more than anything else. It was the cruelty involved in Mody’s death that awakened both the Indian community and liberal American opinion to the threat of racism. Mody was strolling out of a bar along with an American friend when he was accosted by four white teenagers. He was left in coma, his spinal cord severed and skull fractured.
Even when he later died in hospital, the police were inclined to dismiss this as a street brawl, more or less accepting the teenagers’ version that they were only protecting a 14-year-old girl Mody was harassing. But Mody’s parents and Indian community leaders refused to accept this, pointing out two vital facts: the American friend with Mody was unscathed and the teenagers who attacked Mody had been arrested earlier for harassing Indians.
The police say the teenagers may even be denied the usual privileges accorded to juvenile criminals, given the “gravity of the crime”. But Mody’s parents, who live in a small second floor apartment, on social security, are far from satisfied. Says his mother between uncontrollable sobs: “I want them to do to the attackers what they did to my son. Only then justice will be done.” His father repeats just one question: “They killed him but why did they batter him so badly?”
Even though Mody’s murder made the police sit up, it did not deter the attackers. Another serious incident followed as Pratima Bedhekar, a 46-year-old housewife, was attacked while waiting for a bus, pinned to the ground and spat on.
Sunita Sohrabji at India West reports in 2018, that there has been a reduction of hate crime in NJ.
New Jersey gained notoriety in 1987, when a gang calling itself the Dotbusters – in reference to the tikka worn by many Indian American women on their foreheads – began harassing members of the community in Jersey City and Hoboken. In July of that year, members of the Dotbusters gang attacked banker Navroze Mody as he was leaving the Gold Coast bar in Hoboken with friends. The youth punched Mody with their fists, feet, and bricks, and left him unconscious on the sidewalk. Mody died four days later. The youths – who were tried as adults – each received sentences of 10 years or less.
The state of New Jersey, which has had a long and troubling legacy of hate crimes against Indian Americans, had surprisingly few such incidents in 2016, according to a new report released March 27.
The report was released by New Jersey’s new state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who is Indian American. The 30-page report included data about the nationality, religion and gender of the victims, whether the hate crime was against a person, private property or public property, and several related details.