Man arrested in Brooklyn hammer attack not charged with hate crime, despite protests: police

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BROOKLYN — A man wanted for attacking another man with a hammer in Brooklyn was arrested but not given hate crime charges despite what multiple Sikh groups called a bias attack, police said.

The incident took place at around 8:04 a.m. on April 26 at the Quality Inn on Osborn Street. A 32-year-old man was working at the hotel when an unidentified man began a verbal dispute with the other man and two other employees through a glass opening partition. The victim opened the door, confronts the employee and strikes him with a hammer.

The victim sustained bruising and swelling. The attacker fled to parts unknown. The victim refused medical attention at the scene.

On Tuesday, police arrested Latif Gina, 27, charging him with assault, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon

Police did not say that this was being investigated as a hate crime and did not charge Gina with one, but multiple Sikh groups called this a bias attack in two events Saturday with the victim, who identified himself as Sumit Ahluwalia.

There was rally and a press conference held Saturday by the groups Sikhs Against Asian Hate Crimes and Stop Hate Crime.

Stop Hate Crime says that Ahluwalia is feeling better now with just a small bruise on his head but is suffering from emotional scarring. The events will take place at Smokey Park in South Richmond Hill.

Ahluwalia spoke at the event and said that his attacker spit on him three times.

“He started running towards me, he put his hand in his pocket, I thought he was pulling a gun, I got fear and he came running after me,” said Ahluwalia. ” He said ‘you are not my brother, you are not the same skin,’ he pull out the hammer and bang on my head.”

Ahluwalia said thankfully his turban absorbed some of the blow and besides a massive bump, he was not seriously injured. He was heartened by the outpouring of support Saturday at Phil Rizzuto Park in Richmond Hill.

Community leaders and elected officials called for unity and an end to hate crimes.

“Our brother was hit with a hammer just because he is a Sikh American.” said Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, the first Punjabi woman elected to statewide office in New York.

Rajkumar said Sikhs are one of the most targeted religious groups in the country.

“In the past few years, hate crimes against Sikh Americans have risen by 200%,” she noted.

Ahluwalia has returned to work but is constantly looking over his shoulder.

“Now that I’m going back to work on the same street, when I go, I have a fear that somebody is coming from behind and going to hit me,” he said.

Police only indicated that the attack was being investigated as an assault and was not being investigated by the city’s Hate Crimes Task Force. They had said they will upgrade charges if and when that has been established but Gina was not charged with a hate crime.

PIX11 News’ Rob Hoell contributed to this story.

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