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Murdered Sikh Man's Family Would Like To See Some Hate Crime Charges Filed
Here we go again.
In the aftermath of 9/11, hate crimes against Muslims spiked dramatically — going from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001. But they weren’t the only ones — South Asians and Sikhs were also targeted by those who thought they were Muslim. The Sikh Coalition documented more than 300 cases of violence or discrimination against Sikhs in the first month after the terrorist attack alone.
Last week, a 68-year-old Sikh man named Jasmer Singh was brutally beaten to death in Queens, New York, following a minor traffic accident. Singh was driving to a doctor’s visit with his wife ahead of a trip to India, when he bumped into another car. The driver got out of the other car and, in lieu of exchanging insurance information, began pummelling him so severely that he broke Singh’s skull and knocked out his two front teeth. Singh spent a day in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries.
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Gilbert Augustin, 30, was arrested on Friday on several charges, including manslaughter, assault, aggravated unlicensed operator, and leaving the scene of an accident — but Singh’s family wants to see him charged with a hate crime, believing that he was targeted specifically because of the way he looked.
"The guy was addressing my father with his costumes, with his turbans," Singh’s son, referred to only as Mr. Multani, said. "There was no reason for someone to go in that intensity. My father was targeted and it is a possible hate crime."
This is not the only time that something like this has happened in recent days, even just in Queens. Another man, 28, was arrested and charged with a hate crime for assaulting a 19-year-old Sikh man on the train and trying to remove his turban and mask while repeatedly punching him in the face.
It feels weird to point out that someone killed or assaulted a member of the “wrong” ethnic group or religious minority, because there is no “right” here, but it seems highly likely that the perpetrators in these cases assumed that the Sikhs were Palestinians or at least some kind of Muslim, as happened in the aftermath of 9/11.
I will say this as delicately as possible. This is a complicated issue and everyone has their feelings, but it would be super great if people could just not murder random senior citizen Sikh men or six-year-old Palestinian kids who live in Illinois. Or anyone, really. Just, in general, I would hope it is not too much to ask for people living in the United States to refrain from murdering people or repeatedly punching them in the face, even if they are very mad at people they believe look like them.