New York: A 55-year-old man has been arrested here on charges that he called a Sikh man a “terrorist” and mowing him down with his pick-up truck, in an apparent hate crime.
Police in Queens arrested Joseph Caleca of Setauket in Suffolk County and charged him with attempted murder and hate crime, ABC 7 News reported.
Caleca had attacked 29-year-old Sandeep Singh, who was seriously injured when he was hit by the pick-up truck and dragged nearly 30 feet on a public street in Queens following an argument on July 30.
Caleca had called Singh a “terrorist” who should “go back to your country.”
Investigators made the arrest after gathering information on vehicles that were in the area at the time of the incident.
Singh was treated at Jamaica Hospital for abdominal and back injuries.
Just days after the attack on Singh, another Sikh man Jaspreet Singh Batra, a medical scientist, and his mother were attacked by a group of teenagers and called ‘Osama Bin Laden’ in an apparent hate crime, sparking outrage and prompting the Sikh community to demanded that violence against them must end.
Rights group Sikh Coalition has called for a hate crime investigation into the incident. The group has also called on the city government and police leaders to enact policy reforms to address violence and discrimination against minority communities in New York City.
“Sikhs are repeatedly attacked because of the way we look, and the New York Police Department (NYPD) discriminates against us because of the way we look,” said Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy for the Sikh Coalition.
“How can we expect the New York City government to prevent bias attacks against Sikhs when the government itself is biased against Sikhs? We need real reform, and we need it now.”
The group said that hate crimes and discrimination against Sikhs are “compounded by the fact that the NYPD actively discriminates against turbaned Sikhs who wish to serve as law enforcement officers.”
It said while turbaned Sikhs serve as police officers in Canada, India, and the UK, they are not permitted to serve in the NYPD.