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Man charged with hate crime in US for punching Sikh teen wearing turban

New York: A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in the US for attacking a Sikh teenager on a bus here for wearing a turban, according to media reports.

Police on Thursday arrested Christopher Philippeaux, who was conditionally released by parole in July 2021 after serving more than two years in prison, and charged him with a hate crime after the incident on the bus near 118th Street and Liberty Avenue in Queens on October 15, CBS News reported.

According to police, Philippeaux approached the 19-year-old Sikh boy on the New York City MTA bus and said, “We don’t wear that in this country,” referring to his turban.

He also asked the teen to take his mask off.

The suspect then punched the victim in his face, back and in the back of his head, causing cuts and pain, according to police. Police said the man also tried to remove the turban from the head of the teen before getting off the bus and running along Liberty Avenue.

Records show Philippeaux was conditionally released by parole in July 2021 after serving more than two years in state prison for a Manhattan attempted robbery conviction, New York Daily News said.

He has other arrests, most recently for obstructing governmental administration in Brooklyn last month, police said. It appears that the case has been sealed, it said.

The Sikh teen on Wednesday said he is “shaken and angered” by the assault and that no one should be harassed because of how they look.

“Right now, the victim is very traumatized,’ ABC News quoted community activist Japneet Singh as saying. ‘The family is very scared for him.” Though he refused treatment at the scene, Singh says the victim was injured badly enough that he won’t be able to work for the next few days.

“I watched the video and I was angry, I was outraged, and just moved by what happened to the victim,” said Shanifah Rieara, MTA’s Acting Chief Customer Officer. “New York City is a melting pot and it’s from my understanding that this gentleman has only been here for about a year, and this is not how we welcome people to our city.”

(Published 21 October 2023, 10:34 IST)

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