Sikh Coalition welcomes second arrest in NY assaults, says no one deserves hate

iNDICA News Bureau-

The Sikh Coalition has welcomed the two arrests made by the New York Police Department in connection with the attack on Nirmal Singh April 3 and on two other elderly Sikh men April 12.

Vernon Douglas

Vernon Douglas, 19, of Brownsville, was arrested April 14 in Brooklyn and charged with one count of assault as a hate crime, one count of assault of a victim older than 65, and one count of aggravated harassment in relation to the assault of Nirmal Singh.

Douglas is believed to have approached Nirmal Singh, 70, near the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and 95th Avenue and punched him in the face before fleeing on foot.

Douglas was also charged with two counts of robbery as a hate crime, two counts of robbery, two counts of assault as a hate crime, and two counts of aggravated harassment in relation to the April 12 attacks.

Earlier, Hezekiah Coleman, 20, was arrested April 12 in connection with the attacks that day and charged with two counts of robbery as a hate crime, one count of robbery, one count of assault as a hate crime, and one count of aggravated harassment.

“The NYPD recognized and investigated these cases as hate crimes, and has stated that they will be recorded as anti-Sikh incidents,” said Nikki Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s senior manager of policy and advocacy. “Swift action in cases like these, action that stems directly from the lived experiences of our community, sends a clear message that no one should be targeted by hate violence.”

Nirmal Singh, who retained the Sikh Coalition for free legal aid shortly after his assault, decided to return to India last weekend to have the support and care of his family.

The coalition said it remains in contact with his family as well as with the NYPD to facilitate his participation in the case.

“My father is grateful that his attacker has been identified and arrested so that he cannot harm others,” said Manjit Singh, Nirmal Singh’s son. “Our family sees this sad incident as an assault not just on him, but on all who wear turbans and other articles of faith. Successfully investigating and prosecuting this as a hate crime should send a clear message: All of our elders — regardless of religion, race or any other characteristic — deserve to be able to walk the streets without fear.”

The Sikh Coalition is not currently representing the two men attacked April 12 but thanked the Richmond Hill Sangat leaders who continue to work to support them and did the same for Nirmal Singh.

The Richmond Hill Sangat held a ‘Justice for Sikh Americans’ rally at 6:30 pm Thursday between 101st Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard for members to show their support.

The Sikh Coalition also reiterated that no community is deserving of, or responsible for, hate crimes.

‘We all feel sadness and anger for the men who were attacked,’ It said in a statement. ‘As we react and move forward, however, we must remember that drawing judgments about a whole group because of the actions of a few is always wrong. In these difficult moments, anti-Black racism is directly harmful to our shared efforts to stop the hate violence that endangers us all.’