Zemir Begic (left) with fiancee Arijana Mujikanovic (right)
A spokesman for the Bosnian community in St. Louis, rattled over the weekend by a hammer attack that left one of their own dead, says it was not the first violent act against the community.
And although police say they are not viewing the death of Zemir Begic, 32, as a hate crime, the head of the city’s Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, Sadik Kukic, told WND the community members have more than a little suspicion.
“In the last few weeks, there were several crimes against Bosnians,” Kukic told WND. “All the crimes were by the black community.”
Although he didn’t have names and dates of specific incidents, he said there was a series of crimes against the 70,000-strong Bosnian community in the St. Louis area last spring. An increase in foot patrols by police officers then apparently quelled the threat.
Then, he said, a few weeks ago, again, there were several crimes against Bosnians.
“An hour before that man was killed, there was another Bosnian that was attacked,” he said, adding that the victim ended up in the hospital.
Fox News also reported there had been a string of previous crimes involving poor minorities and Bosnians in the area.
And an AP story reposted on the chamber Web page said there have been other violent incidents lately that have rattled the Bosnian community. A 19-year-old Bosnian immigrant was shot and killed in a May 2013 convenience store robbery, and earlier this month, there was an armed robbery and separate carjacking.
Rusmin Topalovic, 38, told the Associated Press: “Too many young boys are getting killed for no reason. We just need more attention from police.”
Kukic told WND that community leaders and police officials hope a higher police presence and profile will be effective.
Schron Jackson, a spokeswoman for St. Louis police, said, “Investigators do not believe the attack on Mr. Begic had any connection to him being of Bosnian descent.”
Jackson said it’s not being investigated as a hate crime.
But Kukic told Fox News that Bosnians right now “have an impression that this was a hate crime.”
The area is not far from the Ferguson streets where violence took place in response to the grand jury decision not to charge white police officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown, the 290-pound 18-year-old who reportedly was charging at the officer when he was shot.
Kukic said he had met with the mayor and police chief, and collectively officials are working “to find a solution for the long-term … stabilization of the neighborhood.”
“Police are trying to put more [officers] on the streets. They are trying foot patrols,” Kukic said. “We did the same thing [several months ago], and it lasted for about three months.
Written by BOB UNRUH
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