Target: James P. O’Neill, Police Chief for the New York Police Department (NYPD)
Goal: Find four passengers allegedly responsible for assaulting a Sikh cab driver and investigate this case as a possible hate crime.
A Sikh cab driver claims that four unruly and possibly intoxicated passengers assaulted him in the early morning hours after he picked them up in Manhattan. The four passengers, three men and one woman, were unable to agree on where the driver, Hakirat Singh, should drop them off. They then began to take their frustrations out on Singh, hurling racial epithets while banging on the plastic partition behind his seat.
After Singh forced them to leave his cab and pay their fare, one of the men allegedly tried to smash his meter and punched him in the arm, using expletives and calling him “Ali Baba.” Terrified, Singh called 911 but was assaulted once more, as one of the passengers tried to steal his phone and tore off his turban. The passengers then fled before police could arrive.
Singh has since felt fearful to return to his work and feels his faith has been insulted. In the Sikh religion, the turban is a symbol of piety and modesty and is worn by both sexes as an article of faith. To have the turban forcibly removed is deeply disrespectful, especially when combined with the racially-charged words and threats that the passengers used against him.
In response to the incident, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that Singh “is welcome here” and commended him on contacting the NYPD. While it is encouraging that the mayor has spoken out against the incident, there are still no arrests at this time. Sign the petition below to demand that the NYPD use its resources to investigate this issue as being possibly racially motivated, and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
Dear Chief O’Neill,
A Sikh cab driver was allegedly assaulted by four passengers who threatened him with racial slurs and stole his turban. The victim, Hakirat Singh, was so shaken by the incident that he is now afraid to go to work. The perpetrators of this violence must be found and brought to justice.
Sikhs across the United States have faced prejudice and have been the victims of racially-motivated violence in far too many cases, especially since 9/11. They are often erroneously targeted by ignorant individuals as “Muslims” or “terrorists” because of the turbans they wear as part of their religious faith.
Both the racially-charged words and the violent actions against this man must be investigated as possible hate crimes. The NYPD must ensure that those responsible are brought to justice and tried for this senseless assault.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Henning 48