Gascon apologizes to Middle Eastern community

April 2, 2010 6:36:35 PM PDT
Hundreds of Middle Eastern Muslims came to hear SFPD Chief George Gascon say he was sorry on Friday afternoon for something he said. His very public "mea culpa" took place in a San Francisco hotel ballroom.

Gascon didn't say a word as his entourage pushed through a crowd of photographers. He was headed into a meeting with close to 1,000 Muslims who had gathered to hear him apologize.

"I am very sorry that I offended you, and I offended the Afghani community as well as other Middle Eastern and Muslim communities. That was never my intent," he said.

What Gascon reportedly said 10 days ago was that the Hall of Justice building was susceptible to a terror attack from a member of the San Francisco Middle Eastern community.

The next day he said he was only talking about those from Yemen and Afghanistan.

Mohamed Homran is president of the Bay Area Yemeni Association.

"I received a lot of calls of people who are expressing their feelings. They are very upset about what he said," he said.

Abdulla Mohamed Jubary is the association's spokesman.

"We were very upset," he said.

Jubary and others said they feared Gascon's comments might fuel attacks against Muslims and on Friday he addressed that fear.

"I want to assure you that you have my upmost commitment that I will do everything that I can to protect your safety, and that of any other community against anyone who wants to do us harm," Gascon said.

It was a very well received apology.

"As you can see all people are really relieved, all of them are happy and I feel personally that he was so sincere about it," Yemeni native Talal Warafi said.

"It was a good sincere apology. He came out here and told us the truth," Muhammad Ali from Berkeley said.

Organizers of the event presented Gascon with a copy of the Koran and a list of requests including sensitivity training for the department and regularly scheduled meetings between the department and the community.

"I hope, you know, that everybody gets the message and calm down and work together for the future," Homran said.

"And we want to move forward and work together with the chief and every other official in the police department," Jubary said.

On his way out, Gascon had no comments for reporters.


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