A Sikh man was attacked with a hammer by a Black assailant who shouted at him "I don't like you" and "You're not the same skin" at a hotel in Brooklyn, prompting a prominent New-York based advocacy group to call on investigators to examine if the assault was a hate crime incident.
Sumit Ahluwalia, 32, of Astoria has said his assailant was fuelled by racial hatred, according to a report on New York Daily News website.
Ahluwalia said the man, a Black, assaulted him on April 26 at his workplace, the Quality Inn in Brownsville. He said the man came into the lobby of the hotel at around 8 am and started shouting while the front desk lady asked him if he needed help.
Ahluwalia stepped into the lobby to speak with the man and to seek the hotel security guard. At that point, the assailant “started running towards me, very fast, and he put his hand in the pocket — I thought, ‘He's pulling out a gun''', the report said.
Pleading with the man, the victim said, “What happened? You're my brother.”
The attacker responded “You're not the same skin,” Ahluwalia said, adding that the man then “banged on my head with the hammer so hard.”
The assailant then screamed, “I don't like you,” and ran away, according to the report.
It said the victim “couldn't feel what happened with me” and was eventually taken to an emergency room.
“I couldn't sleep. I had a big bump on my head. I could fall -- feeling dizziness, and the next morning I went to the doctor,” he said, adding that five days later, he was still feeling anxious and fearful.
“I didn't do anything… I don't deserve this. I'm a hardworking guy, wake up in the morning 6 a.m. and go home at 7 pm,” he said.
Police have released pictures of the suspect, who was still being sought.
Advocacy group The Sikh Coalition said its legal team is providing free legal services to Ahluwalia.
“We have already been in direct communication with law enforcement and demanded that investigators examine the real possibility that bias was a motive,” it said, adding that anyone with information about the incident should contact the New York Police Department.
The tragic incident comes as the US has witnessed a recent wave of anti-Asian hate crimes during this pandemic.
Eight people, including four Sikhs, were killed in a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis last month.
In March last year, a man stabbed two Asian American children - aged 2 and 6 - and their father at Sam's Club in Texas because “he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with the coronavirus.”
A group of Democratic Senators in May last year said there has been a surge in hate crime against Asian-Americans amid coronavirus pandemic and had urged the Trump administration to take concrete steps to arrest the spike.