Top guns from the NYPD, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Marshalls showed off their gear and technology to about 400 children on May 19 in Manhattan Beach in an effort created to win the hearts and minds of the city’s Muslim population — but unlike last year’s event, the security brass left their guns at home this year.
Children last year got to check out such advanced weaponry as a bazooka, but the kids who attended this year’s event — the majority of whom were brought to the event by Islamic schools and institutions — only got to check out such technology as underwater gear from the FBI’s immersion unit, a presidential-style armored limo, and a metal battering ram from the U.S. Marshalls.
Organizers said the event was a smashing success, even though the weaponry was toned down.
“The youth, they enjoyed the things brought here and I think it was fun for them and everybody,” said Hassan Raza, the program director at the Council of People’s Organization, a Midwood-based group that works with South Asian immigrants and organized the event for the second year in a row.
“The purpose was to bridge the gap between these agencies and the Muslim youth so our youth can be part of the system here.”
The NYPD has come under fire this year for a controversial program of surveillance in Muslim communities as far away as New Jersey, but Raza argued that the organization was not at odds with the Muslim community.
“Muslims should be part of all these agencies — when they are part of the agencies they can minimize the misunderstandings, and it will help,” he said.Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg