RICHMOND HILL, Queens (WABC) — Police have made an arrest following the attack of a Sikh man onboard an MTA bus in Queens on Sunday.
Christopher Philippeaux, 26, was arrested Thursday night in connection to the October 15th assault that occurred on a shuttle bus near 118th Street and Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill.
According to police, Philippeaux approached the 19-year-old victim and said, “We don’t wear that in this country,” referring to his turban.
He then punched him several times and tried to remove his turban.
Philippeaux is charged with felony hate-crime.
“Right now, the victim is very traumatized,” said community activist Japneet Singh. “The family is very scared for him.”
Though he refused treatment at the scene, Singh says the victim was injured badly enough that he won’t be able to work for the next few days.
Singh says with South Richmond Hill being home to one of the city’s largest Sikh communities, many are now left wondering: could I be next?
The community activist said just last week, he was confused for being Muslim as he was leaving Gracie Mansion.
“A bunch of, they looked like college kids, they were running by and called out Hamas,” said Singh. “We’ve seen a similar pattern after 9/11 where rise in anti-Islamic sentiments trickle down to other communities as well.”
“I watched the video and I was angry, I was outraged, and just moved by what happened to the victim,” said Shanifah Rieara, MTA Acting Chief Customer Officer. “New York City is a melting pot and it’s from my understanding that this gentleman has only been here for about a year, and this is not how we welcome people to our city.”
The victim is not Muslim. However, community members say that doesn’t mean the assailant knew that – or that future potential assailants will know that.
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