New York: A US teenager, charged with hate crime after he brutally assaulted a Sikh man last year, calling him a "terrorist" and "bin Laden", has been sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to perform community service for the Sikh community.
The 17-year-old, whose name was not released, had pleaded guilty in December last year to hitting Inderjit Singh Mukker, 53, of Darien, Illinois after a traffic altercation on September 8, just days before the 9/11 anniversary.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin announced on Thursday that the Willowbrook teen has been sentenced to two years' probation by the juvenile court.
Besides probation, he was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, part of which must be serving the Sikh community, pay over $4,800 in restitution and undergo counselling as deemed necessary by the probation department.
"My office has zero tolerance for crimes based on hatred or prejudices. Not only have the defendant's outrageous actions on September 8 taken an emotional, physical and financial toll on Mukker, that continues to this very day, his actions also have shaken the entire community," Berlin said.
Berlin said the defendant has learnt that any attack motivated in whole or in part by a pre-conceived bias against another individual is a serious crime that carries serious consequences.
Mukker and the defendant were involved in a "road rage" incident instigated by the defendant yelling racial slurs at the Sikh-American, including "Terrorist, go back to your country, Bin Laden!" a police investigation had found.
The defendant repeatedly punched Mukker in the face as he sat in his vehicle. Mukker lost consciousness, bled profusely and suffered a fractured cheekbone and a laceration to his cheek. Upon their arrival, police had found Mukker in the front driver's seat of his vehicle. He received six stitches. Police located the defendant, who had fled the scene, at his home. When officers attempted to arrest him, he had resisted and even punched a police officer in the face.
Advocacy group The Sikh Coalition said that there has been a "meteoric rise" in hate crimes against Sikh-Americans as xenophobic political speech has increased. "Charging the assailant with a hate crime is an important step towards addressing the broader epidemic. We hope that the 200 hours of community service are spent with the Sikh-American community in an effort to further educate people about the community," said Sikh Coalition legal director Harsimran Kaur.