Authorities investigating possible hate crime; booked passenger out on bail.
In the coastal city of Bellingham, Washington, a Sikh Uber driver had a nightmarish ride when the passenger began assaulting him and made racially charged verbal abuses.
The incident occurred early Thursday morning, December 5 when the Sikh driver picked one Grifin Levi Sayers near Barkley Boulevard. Around four AM police received a harried 911 call from the driver that he had been attacked by his passenger, The Bellingham Herald reported.
The Bellingham Police arrested and booked 22-year-old Sayers on suspicion of second-degree assault and a failure-to-appear warrant for fourth-degree assault. According to police records, he was released on $13,000 bail on Friday evening.
The driver told the police that Sayers took the cab to make some purchases and then returned to the pick-up location. It was at this point that the passenger became abusive and grabbed the driver by his throat and squeezed it violently.
He also made racial comments about the driver’s brown skin. The driver somehow managed to get out of the cab and made a 911 call. When the police arrived, they were able to locate Sayers nearby and arrested him.
“This assault is being investigated as a bias incident, as Sayers maliciously and intentionally assaulted the victim because of Sayers’ perception of the victim’s race, national origin and religion,” said Lt. Claudia Murphy as cited by Bellingham Herald. “Additional charges by the prosecutor’s office for hate crime offense are pending.”
Hate crimes against Sikhs in America have always been on the radar for civil rights and minority groups. A report released just last month, identified Sikhs as the third largest most targeted groups in the country after Jews and Muslims.
Anti-Sikh hate crimes rose by a whopping 200 percent since 2017, according to an FBI report. Even as Sikh groups and minority organizations continue to make attempts to educate Americans on Sikhism and the tenets of its faith, Sikhs are often mistakenly targeted because of their turbans.
Various studies have also shown that on an average Americans do not know much about Sikh faith or articles of their faith like a beard and turban.
New FBI report shows 200 percent increase in anti-Sikh hate crimes (November 13, 2019)
Quadruple Sikh family murders in Ohio not a hate crime (May 1, 2019)
Attacker of Sikh convenient store clerk in Oregon charged with hate crime (January 21, 2019)
Sikh cab driver assaulted in New York in a possible hate crime (April 19, 2017)