Intersections International, the interfaith group “dedicated to promoting peace and understanding” between cultures which has a volunteer named Michael Enright, said today they hope their volunteer is not the same man who allegedly slashed a cab driver last night after asking if he was Muslim.
“I am deeply distressed if this is the Mike Enright that we know,” the group’s executive director, the Rev. Robert Chase, told TPMmuckraker.
“Especially, or sadly, ironic, is that our work is about building bridges between different faiths, different ethnicities, different cultures,” Chase said. “This is exactly the opposite of what we stand for.”
“If this is the Michael Enright who has worked with Intersections,” he said, “this is totally out of his character and it’s really, in many ways, unfathomable to me.”
Chase, in his interview with TPM and in a statement released by Intersections, was very careful to say that it has not yet been confirmed that the Enright who was arrested last night is the same Enright who has been volunteering for Intersections for the past year.
But it seems likely that the two men are one in the same. Both Enrights grew up in Brewster and are 21. According to the New York Post, the Enright who was arrested told police he works for a media company and had recently been in Afghanistan. The Intersections volunteer recently returned from Afghanistan while shooting footage for his thesis at the School of Visual Arts.
Joseph Ward, a spokesman for Intersections, described Enright’s work as volunteer work and said he provided audio and visual support for some of Intersections’ programs. According to Ward, Enright reached out to Intersections about a year ago. “He was interested in our work,” he said.
He wasn’t paid a salary. But, as Chase told us, the group paid some of his travel expenses as he traveled with a high school friend’s Marine Corps unit to Hawaii, Afghanistan and back.
“We had a significant investment in Mike’s work,” Chase said. “We believed in what he was trying to do, give voice to soldiers on the ground.” Chase added that the group planned to use some of Mike’s footage in their programs.
Chase said he believes Enright “absolutely” held the same values as Intersections.
“That’s why this is so out of character,” he said. “He worked hours with us as a volunteer and I don’t think he would have done that if he didn’t believe in the mission.”
Chase also described Enright as “cordial, very helpful, and he’s a really good guy.”
Neither Chase nor Ward would comment on Enright’s future with Intersections.
In the statement, Intersections expressed condolences for the cab driver and called the violence “unacceptable.”
Here’s the full statement:
We have learned about an incident wherein one of our volunteers may have been charged with a hate crime in a stabbing incident that involved a New York City cab driver on Tuesday evening.
The alleged perpetrator is not an employee and has never been an employee of Intersections. There is a person who fits the description of the alleged perpetrator who has worked with us as a volunteer, but until we get further confirmation of the details in this incident, we cannot comment.
Our hearts go out to the cab driver, his family and any person who has dealt with such unacceptable violence.
Intersections is on record, explicitly and consistently, as promoting interfaith dialogue and cross cultural cooperation, specifically with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We deplore violence and any act that may be categorized as a hate crime.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all parties in this tragic incident.