- Lawmakers, advocates and Sikh American community leaders call on police to investigate the attack on Sumit Ahluwalia as a hate crime.
New York lawmakers, advocates and Sikh American community leaders are calling on police to investigate an attack on a Sikh man last week as a hate crime. Sumit Ahluwalia, 32, an employee at Quality Inn in the Brownsville neighborhood in Brooklyn, was hit in the head with a hammer while on his way to work.
A footage from the surveillance video taken on April 26, posted on NBC New York’s website, shows an unknown man hit Ahluwalia as he enters the lobby of the Quality Inn. The man then runs away. Ahluwalia, a father of two and recent immigrant from India, sustained head injuries in the attack, which included some internal bleeding. He believes his turban may have prevented more serious injuries. He has since returned to work.
Ahluwalia spoke at a “Stop Hate Crime” event at Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park in South Richmond Hill, Queens. “Now, I’m feeling scared somehow. Now, when I’m going to work, like when I’m walking, I have some fear that maybe someone is coming. Everyone comes to this country with a new hope, but now, [there is] some other feeling in my mind. I didn’t say anything, not my fault. Why I get this?” he said.
Ahluwalia told NBC that the attack preceded a verbal argument. He said the man, who was not a guest at the hotel, “randomly came inside,” and was talking on the phone “very loudly.” When the lady working at the front desk asked the person if he needed anything, Ahluwalia said he got mad. “He yelled too much,” and spit on them from the front desk window, “three times.” Then the man started running towards Ahluwalia and put his hand in his pocket. “I thought he was pulling a gun,” Ahluwalia said. “I got fear and he came running after me,” said Ahluwalia. “He pulled out the hammer from his bucket and bang on my head with such intensity,” he said, adding that the man said he didn’t like the color of his skin.
“Our brother was hit with a hammer just because he is a Sikh American.” said Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar. Noting that “Sikhs are one of the most targeted religious groups in the country,” she said, “In the past few years, hate crimes against Sikh Americans have risen by 200 percent.
City Council Member Adrienne Adams said the city “will continue to promote unity in our city and we will stand up against bias and we will stand up against hate.
Advocate Japneet Singh in his speech said the assault is especially painful on the heels of the killings of four Sikhs in the deadly massacre in Indianapolis.“We should be accepting of everyone. We all are entitled to a dignified life, a respectful life.”
Police have released pictures of the suspect in the case, who is still being sought. They haven’t yet determined if it is a hate crime.