For the past several months, tensions have been simmering between the Indian community and police in Edison, N.J., home to one of the highest concentrations of Indians in any township in the United States. Nearly 20 percent of Edison residents are Indian; Middlesex County, where it is located, has the distinction of having the highest proportion of Indians in any county in the country.Tensions flared over the July 4 arrest of a 30-year-old resident Rajnikant Parikh during an illegal fireworks display. Parikh alleges he was roughed up by a police officer, who, in turn, cited him for resisting arrest, inciting a riot and assault. We will likely never know what actually transpired during that incident. However, an internal police investigation cleared the police officer. Unfortunately, the unwillingness of City Hall to undertake an impartial investigation by an external agency and the subsequent downgrading of the charges against Parikh to disorderly conduct undermines the credibility of their “internal” inquiry.For most immigrants, what is even more disturbing occurred one month later when federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took Parikh into custody as he marched outside the municipal building with a “Racism Must End in Edison” poster at a public rally called on his behalf to protest police brutality. Although both the Edison mayor and police chief deny they had prior knowledge of Parikh’s arrest, critics charge that some police officers connived with ICE to have him arrested at the rally in an attempt to intimidate and harass him because of his public advocacy. Immigration officials have confirmed that they coordinated their efforts with local police.Any role by Edison police in orchestrating Parikh’s arrest has to be independently investigated and publicly disclosed. If police officials conspired with ICE to avenge Parikh’s criticism of them, it is a gross abuse of their power to scare not just Parikh, but any immigrant who has the temerity to exercise free speech rights in the country. The public has a right to expect that police officers will not abuse their position to persecute and terrorize them.During the past few months, there have been tense standoffs between Indian and non-Indian residents. In one particularly notorious incident, opponents taunted Indians at a public rally as “cockroaches” and “animals.”At press time, almost two months since his second arrest, Parikh remains in immigration custody pending a deportation hearing. Although married to a U.S. citizen, Parikh is reportedly in previous violation of immigration laws and possibly under an existing deportation order.However, Parikh’s immigration status is entirely irrelevant to any police abuse. Edison, like most municipalities, operates under an unwritten code barring officials from sharing information on an individual’s immigration status with federal officials. In several regions, such as New York City and San Francisco, for example, law codifies the prohibition.The Parikh incident demonstrates the need for just such a policy. Anything less invites abuse: whenever their primary case is weak or to cover up their own abuses, local officials would turn to federal immigration agents to exact vengeance against immigrant critics.Parikh’s affairs – both the charges of disorderly conduct, as well as his immigration status – should, and no doubt will, be resolved by the judicial process. But there needs to be public accountability if local and police officials in Edison abused their position to violate the civil rights of a vociferous critic to discredit and intimidate him.ICE officers also need to explain and halt their Gestapo-style storm trooper tactics of arresting Parikh at a public rally one month after the widely publicized incident, when the arrest could as easily have been affected by them weeks earlier instead of at a public forum, especially one in which serious First Amendment rights are implicated.Parikh may well prove to be out of status. But so too may ICE and Edison police officials. Parikh’s penalty is deportation from the United States. The punishment for the local and federal officials found to have abused their trust to violate his civil rights ought to be expulsion from their official positions. Related Items
When you’re collecting email addresses, you need to focus on both donors and non-donors. Don’t neglect one group in favor of the other. It’s critical to get the email addresses of your donors so that you can keep them informed of news and information that relates to their membership status with your organization. Also make an effort to collect the email addresses of donors that joined in past years, which you can do at membership renewal time. Non-donors are a large group of individuals that have an interest in your programs or activities, but for various reasons haven’t had the time or financial freedom to become contributing members. We like to call these future donors! Non-donors should be asked to “stay in touch” by providing their email addresses. Always remember the golden rule:Get permission to use an email address.Anywhere you solicit an email address, include a brief explanation of what you will do with it, such as “We’ll use your email address to send you occasional email updates. We won’t share your email address with anyone, and you can ‘unsubscribe’ at any time.” Purchased lists simply do not work and should not be used. You will be regarded as spam and be almost universally deleted before anybody sees your messages, all the while building a bad reputation. A smaller list of people who are known to be interested in your organization and cause is much more effective than a huge list of unknown and uninterested recipients.So you may be wondering, well how do I go about building a large email database? Don’t worry – there are plenty of opportunities to ask for email addresses:On your site. Get email addresses from your site visitors by making it really easy to get on your e-news list. Place the subscription form prominently on the home page and other high-trafficked pages – and give visitors a good reason to leave their name by telling them they’ll get something they want in your e-newsletter such as tips, important information or reminders of scheduled events. In the ideal setup, the user inputs their email address on your home page, clicks submit, and is then taken to another page where they can optionally provide additional information, such as first name/last name, zip code, and interests so you can personalize and target messages.With printed materials: All of your print materials should ask for email addresses and provide easy ways to sign up for the e-newsletter. You can invite people to send a blank email to an email address that you set up through your email messaging system; just by sending the email they will be subscribed. You can tell them to go to your home page and sign up there. Or you can tell them to mail or fax back the ad or form with their email address scribbled on it and you will enter it into the database.At events: If you’re running a kiosk or a booth at an event, ask people face-to-face for their email address, and explain why you’re doing it. Or you can set up a laptop and let people enter their email addresses and other information. You can announce a raffle or a contest, asking people to write their email addresses on the raffle stub to enter. If you’re at a business event, you can ask people to leave their business cards.On the phone: At the end of a call, when a donor has either pledged or declined, the caller can ask: “Please give me your email addresses so we can stay in contact. Email saves us money, and let’s us contact you when there’s breaking news.” It’s an opportunity for the person on the phone to be in the loop, not an intrusion.In person: This won’t grow your list fast, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. In a busy day, you might meet a dozen new people. Ask them for their cards or email addresses, and then make sure their email addresses are entered onto the e-newsletter list. When you or others representing your organization give a speech or make a presentation, invite listeners at the end to give you their cards if they’d like to get your e-news.Mailings: Mailings are good opportunities to ask for email addresses, because there’s often a response mechanism built into the mailing. Make sure there’s a line for email addresses – and possibly a premium or some other incentive. Double postcards are also good for collecting email, since people can tear off the reply postcard and mail it back to RSVP or sign up for something.Premiums, contests and raffles: Any kind of donor contact that has a reward is a good opportunity to ask for email addresses. In the case of a membership premium, the donor is already excited about receiving a gift in exchange for a donation, so obtaining their email is usually easy. Contests and raffles are other good times, since the expectation of winning requires someone to do something, and giving their email address is easy and free.