Fri October 26, 2001
Charge Against Singh To Be Dropped
By Mark Degon
Providence – A Virginia man arrested in Providence the day after the September 11 attacks apparently will not be prosecuted on an illegal weapon charge. Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. asked the City Solicitor Thursday to dismiss the charge brought over a Sikh ceremonial dagger, known as a kirpan, taken from Sher Singh.
Singh was one of three people on a train from Boston, who were detained and questioned by Providence Police. Police concluded none of them was connected to any terrorist threat. Singh, however, was arrested on the misdemeanor weapon charge.
Cianci defended police, saying they had acted appropriately. Cianci refused to appologize for the arrest. He said prosecuting Singh would serve no public purpose though and that the city should not send a message of intollerance.
Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse had already recommended the charge be dropped. Whitehouse wrote to city lawyers to tell them state prosecutors would not take the case, if it were appealed to superior court.
Singh's attorney said he could have proved his clients civil rights were violated. He suggested Singh was singled out only because of his appearance. Singh has dark skin and a thick beard. He wears a turban.
Through his attorney, Singh expressed gratitude to Mayor Ciance and Attorney General Whitehouse. He also directly thanked people who have signed petitions on his behalf.
Listen to Mark Degon's report from WRNI's Morning Edition.