A Sikh man working at a convenience store in the United States was attacked in an alleged hate crime last week, PTI reported on Sunday. Harwinder Singh Dodd was kicked and punched in his face at the store in the state of Oregon.
The attacker, identified as 24-year-old Andrew Ramsey, was charged with a hate crime and assault, AP reported. Ramsey allegedly threw his shoe at Dodd and tried to steal his turban.
According to court documents, Ramsey attacked Dodd because of his perception about the employee’s religion. Justin Brecht, a legislative policy adviser in the Oregon State Capitol and a former combat Marine, witnessed the incident and said Ramsey attacked Dodd after he refused to sell him rolling papers for cigarettes without an identification document.
When Dodd asked Ramsey to leave, he pulled on the clerk’s beard, punched him in the face, pulled him to the ground and kicked him. Brecht and other bystanders restrained Ramsey until officers got to the spot.
Brecht said Ramsey could have further injured Dodd. “He was bleeding, he had gotten punched quite a bit in the face, and kicked on the ground and thrown to the ground very brutally,” he said. “It was very serious.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hate crimes rose by 40% in Oregon from 2016 to 2017. The Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh civil rights organisation in the US, said it is monitoring this case.
There have been several incidents where Sikh men have been targeted in alleged hate crimes in the US. The attacks have been compounded by confusion about the faith of Sikhs, who are often mistaken for Muslims, another group facing persecution.
In August last year, a Sikh man was found dead at his store in New Jersey’s East Orange in a suspected homicide. In February, a passenger allegedly targeted a Sikh Uber cab driver in Illinois on the basis of his religion and ethnicity and had pointed a gun at him.