Days after a 53-year-old Sikh-American man was brutally assaulted by a teenager in Chicago, US authorities have termed the incident as "road rage" and said that that no hate crime charges will be brought against the assailant.
Inderjit Singh Mukker, a Sikh American resident in the Darien suburb of Chicago, was driving to the grocery store on Tuesday when his alleged assailant pulled up in front of his car while yelling racial slurs at him. According to a statement released by the Sikh Coalition, a community-based organisation, the assailant told Mukker “Terrorist, go back to your country, Bin Laden!”
US authorities have filed aggravated battery charges against the teenager from Willowbrook, reported PTI.
“I am appalled and disgusted by this decision,” Mukker said. “What happened to me on Tuesday night is the definition of hate.”
Reacting to the charges pressed against Mukker's assulter, the Sikh Coalition said that the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office decided to not press charges of hate crime against the offender "Despite clear hate crime evidence and verbal indications by the Darien Police Department throughout the week that the assailant was going to be charged with a hate crime"
"This disappointing decision directly contradicts Illinois hate crimes law, which states that a person commits a hate crime when by reason of actual or perceived race or religion, and regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors, commits an assault, battery or an aggravated assault."
"You cannot address the problem of hate in this nation if you refuse to acknowledge its existence,” said the Sikh Coalition’s Legal Director, Harsimran Kaur. “This announcement is shocking and a completely unacceptable decision by the DuPage County prosecutor. If Illinois is going to drop the ball, then we demand that the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecute the offender under federal hate crime law immediately.”
“This was not a simple case of road rage. In fact, in my many years of representing hate crime victims, the hate crimes charge is as clear and as obvious as it gets. To ignore the racial element of the crime sends a clear message that State’s Attorney Robert Berlin is not interested in protecting vulnerable communities," Kaur added.
An online petition has now been launched demanding that the Department of Justice brings federal hate crime charges against Mukker’s assailant. "Despite being punched repeatedly through a car window while being called racial slurs, we are now being told that this is not a hate crime, but a case of road rage," part of the petition reads.
On the day of the incident, the assailant approached Mukker, who was still in his vehicle, and repeatedly punched his face, "causing him to lose consciousness, bleed profusely and suffer a fractured cheekbone and a laceration to his cheek. He was rushed to the hospital, where he received six stitches, treatment for lacerations, bruising and swelling."
According to PTI, DuPage County said that when the defendant was approached by police, he resisted arrest and punched a police officer in the face.
"The allegations against this defendant are very serious. Regardless of what was said or done by either of the parties allegedly involved in this incident, physical attacks will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law.
"The allegations against this defendant are very serious. Regardless of what was said or done by either of the parties allegedly involved in this incident, physical attacks will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law. People have to remember that if you find yourself involved in a traffic altercation, stay calm and don't let your emotions get the better of you," PTI quotes Berlin as saying.