• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

NYC head of hate crimes prevention unit fired, plans to file discrimination claim

NYC head of hate crimes prevention unit fired, plans to file discrimination claim

The director of Mayor Adams’ hate crimes prevention unit was fired from his post last week without being given a reason for his dismissal — and is now planning to take legal action claiming discrimination, the Daily News has learned.

Hassan Naveed, who’s worked as executive director of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes since October 2022, announced Wednesday on his LinkedIn page that he “officially left” the leadership post. On Friday, Naveed told The News he believes his dismissal is tied to the fact that he’s Muslim, that he hired a lawyer and intends to file a claim.

“I’ve never had this level of disrespect of being sidelined like this,” he said Friday afternoon. “What I feel is that I have definitely been fired because I am Muslim … I’ve done everything right in my career and then this happens.”

A City Hall spokesperson said the change was happening at a critical time in New York.

“While hate crimes may be rising in major cities across the nation, the work of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes is crucial to New York City now more than ever,” the spokesperson said. “Following an analysis, it was determined that the important mission of this office should be led by someone who puts bringing hate crimes down first and themself second. We will not allow this unit to miss a single step at this critical juncture.”

Naveed’s exit is the latest in a string of departures that have become public over the last two weeks and comes at a fraught time for the administration, which is facing legal challenges on a variety of fronts.

Last week, Adams’ chief adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin confirmed that the administration is seeking to replace its top lawyer, Sylvia Hinds-Radix, with Randy Mastro, a former official in Mayor Giuliani’s administration. Dawn Pinnock, the head of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, also recently announced she would be stepping down in June. And the administration is pushing out the head of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, Arva Rice, as well.

Naveed’s departure appears to be more abrupt. According to two sources familiar with the matter, Naveed worked a full day on April 16 and at the end of the day was approached by a supervisor and told he’d been terminated.

Naveed wasn’t given an explanation for his firing, according to the sources, but was told the decision came from “higher ups,” that he was an “at-will” employee and that there didn’t need to be a specific reason for his dismissal.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks, who recently told Rice that the mayor wanted her to step down, oversees the Office of Hate Crime Prevention as part of his portfolio.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is pictured at City Hall, Blue Room, during his weekly in-person Press Conference on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. During the press conference, the mayor addressed issues regarding the budget, migrants, subway crimes, and the NYPD's handling of protesters occupying University campuses around the city.

Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News

Mayor Eric Adams. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)

While being informed of his firing, Naveed was also told he’d failed to submit an annual hate crimes report in 2021, during former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s City Hall tenure. According to the two sources, Naveed responded that wasn’t the case and that he had emails showing he’d submitted the report on time.

Naveed told The News on Friday he was just six months away from reaching the threshold to be able to collect a municipal pension after 10 years of public service.

“It has put me in an adverse personal financial position,” he said, adding that he fears he now may not be able to afford rent and will have to move in with family.

Two other sources familiar with the situation said Naveed’s dismissal is tied to a recent Iftar event that was the object of protests. According to those sources, after protesters openly criticized Mayor Adams at the event, administration officials looked to Naveed to push back on their criticisms and found his response lacking.

Deborah Lauter, who served as the executive director of the hate crimes prevention office under de Blasio and hired Hassan as her deputy, said she was shocked to learn of Hassan’s ouster.

“I’m totally flummoxed by this,” she said. “He was my deputy for two years. He was just an outstanding city employee. He’s thoughtful, he’s charismatic, he understood city government from his previous jobs.”

She then voiced concern about the future of the hate crimes prevention office.

“It’s beyond sad. I just don’t understand why they would do this to such a competent person,” she said. “I’m very disappointed that he won’t be there to do the work, and I don’t know what the plan is for the office.”

Naveed previously served as a deputy executive director in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, which oversees the hate crimes unit. Before that, he served in the city’s Department of Investigation as part of its unit focused on the NYPD.

Source link