In a statement on January 3, community-based civil and human rights organisation The Sikh Coalition said that New York City resident Singh was physically attacked and berated near his cab at JFK International Airport.
Singh had parked his cab at the Terminal 4 taxi stand when another driver blocked his vehicle. When Singh picked up a customer, he stepped out of his car to ask the other driver to move. The other driver attempted to hit Singh with his own car door; he then began repeatedly punching Singh in the head, chest, and arms, knocking off his turban, it said in a statement.
The other driver called Singh “turbaned people” and shouted at him to “go back to your country,” according to the statement.
“I was shocked and angered to be assaulted for doing nothing but minding my own business. While working, no one should experience such hate. I am hopeful that the police can identify, arrest, and charge the person who attacked me so that I can move forward,” the Sikh taxi driver, identified only as Mr Singh out of respect for his request for privacy, has told The Sikh Coalition.
Singh filed a report with the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) immediately after the incident. The Sikh Coalition said it is currently working to ensure that the report “paints an accurate picture of the attack given the language barrier during the initial conversations.” The organisation’s staff accompanied Singh to a meeting with a detective to provide language assistance and legal support.
“We have every expectation that bias will be considered as a factor in this outrageous attack, given the evidence of what the other driver said and did to Mr Singh,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition legal director.
According to the most recent FBI data, Sikhs remain in the top three most frequently targeted groups for religiously-motivated hate crimes and bias incidents nationwide.
In the Sikh Coalition’s experience, taxi and rideshare drivers in particular are at a heightened risk of these kinds of violent attacks, it said.