13-Year-Old Sikh Boy Says He Was Attacked Because of Religion, as Police Investigate Hate Crime
Suffolk, N.Y., police are investigating an alleged hate crime incident involving a 13-year-old Sikh boy who was allegedly punched and subjected to racial slurs by a group of teens.
Police said the incident occurred on May 29 between two groups of juveniles at the Walt Whitman Shops.
"One of the juveniles reported he was struck with a closed fist and bias comments were made," Suffolk County Police said in a statement. "The incident is being investigated as an aggravated harassment as a hate crime."
The teen, Chaz Bedi, told News 12 that he was a member of the Sikh religion and wore a turban and was attacked because of the way he looked.
"You shouldn't be targeted for anything that is different about you," he said. "Nobody should be targeted for any reason at all."
The teen alleged that the attackers were older teens and they punched him while spouting out racial epithets.
"We are relieved that this child was not seriously injured and welcome the Suffolk County Police investigation of this deplorable act of violence as a hate crime. We applaud the young boy's and his family's courage to speak out about this hate incident," Afaf Nasher, executive director of The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement. "Too often, our Sikh brothers and sisters are targeted in hate crimes and other forms of discrimination."
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Bedi told the outlet he was also a victim of school bullying.
"His school must address this bullying and provide a safe learning environment for him and others," said Nasher. "No one should be bullied or targeted due to their appearance or faith."
Anyone with information about the incident can call Suffolk Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.
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