Brooklyn man charged with three hate attacks on Sikhs

Photo Credit: Japneet Singh (Twitter)

“Our diversity is our strength and no acts of violence will undermine who we are,” says Queens’ DA

A Brooklyn teenager has been charged with hate crime for allegedly attacking and robbing three Sikh men in separate incidents in Queens over a 9-day span between April 3 and April 12.

Vernon Douglas, 19, who was arrested on hate crime charges on April 14 for allegedly punching a 70-year-old Sikh man in Richmond Hill was charged Saturday for two other bias attacks against Sikh men.

A second man, Hezekiah Coleman, 20, is also charged with Douglas in connection with one of the attacks, according to a press release from Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz’s office.

Read: Sikh man visiting NYC from India brutally attacked (April 6, 2022)

“This defendant is accused of targeting three men, all members of the Sikh community who wore turbans at the time of the attacks. We will not tolerate beatings motivated by hate in the borough of Queens – the most diverse county in the world,” Katz stated.

“Our diversity is our strength and no acts of violence will undermine who we are. This defendant, along with his co-defendant, will be held to account for the charges of which they are accused,” she added.

Douglas, of Watkins Street in Brooklyn, was arraigned on April 16 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Anthony Battisti on a 13-count criminal complaint. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

Douglas is charged with robbery in the first and second degree as a hate crime, four counts of assault in the second degree as a hate crime, assault in the second degree of an elderly person over 65, three counts of assault in the third degree as a hate crime and three counts of aggravated harassment in the second degree as a hate crime.

Coleman, of 118th Street in Richmond Hill, Queens, was arraigned on April 13 before Queens Criminal Court before Judge Marty Lentz on a five-count complaint charging him with robbery in the first and second degree and assault in the second degree.

Lentz set the next Court date for May 26, 2022. If convicted, Coleman too faces up to 25 years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint, Douglas’ first bias attack took place at around 6:45 a.m. on Sunday April 3, when he targeted Nirmal Singh, 70, while the victim was walking near the intersection of 95th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard.

Singh, who was wearing a turban, was punched several times in the face and head without a word being uttered. The victim, who was on his way to the Sikh Cultural Society Temple, suffered a broken nose and had bruising to his right eye due to the assault.

The second incident took place at the same location on April 12 at around 7 a.m., when Douglas—who was shirtless and carrying a stick at the time—allegedly approached a 45-year-old man wearing a turban.

Douglas allegedly hit the man several times with the stick, striking him in the head and face—and then punched him several times. When the man fell to the ground, he allegedly picked up the victim’s wallet and took $300 in cash. The victim was taken to hospital and required stitches to his forehead.

Minutes later, at the same location, Douglas, still shirtless, approached a 58-year-old Sikh man and hit him in the head and face with the stick, causing the victim’s turban to fall from his head.

Douglas then picked up the religious garment and then pulled on the victim’s beard. He was joined by an accomplice in the attack of the 58-year-old. Hezekiah Coleman, 20, allegedly punching the victim multiple times, as well as threatened to shoot him.

“This is disgusting behavior, and it’s clear the Sikh community is being deliberately targeted,” said Japneet Singh, a community leader, shortly after the attacks.

Singh told the Queens Post last week that many Sikh residents have built a home in Richmond Hill– known by many as Little Punjab—and are now worried about their safety.

Read: Brooklyn Man Charged With Three Hate Attacks on Sikhs in Richmond Hill: DA (April 18, 2022)

“For [the attacks] to happen in our home—that we call Little Punjab — a lot of people are very saddened and just scared,” he said.

More than 500,000 Sikhs are estimated to be living in the US. The recent attacks in Queens also come as New York has recently reported a spike in hate crimes, particularly against Asian Americans.

The NYPD recorded 524 hate crime incidents in 2021, nearly double the 2020 count and the highest reported in five years, CNN said citing a department report.

One Comment

  1. There’s nothing like a community dispensed justice,sans any so-called justices sitting on a benches in NYC

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