A Sikh man was attacked at the Brownsville Quality Inn on Osborne street Monday morning, with many in New York City's Indian community calling for the attack to be investigated as a hate crime, CBS New York reports.
Surveillance video from the hotel lobby where he works as an operations manager shows 32-year-old Sumit Ahulawalia entering the lobby with another man following him.
The man then pulls out a hammer and strikes Ahulawalia on the head before leaving the lobby.
"He pulled out the hammer from his bucket and bang on my head with such intensity,” Ahulawalia told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.
He suffered minor injuries to his head, including internal bleeding, but is expected to make a full recovery, and believes his turban saved him from further injury.
Ahulawalia told Dhillion that the man began yelling at him and front desk staff, and also spit in his face.
"I came moving back and said, ‘Hey brother, what happened?’ [He said,] ‘You’re not my brother. You’re not the same skin. I don’t like you,'" said Ahulawalia.
When asked whether he thought he was targeted, Ahulawalia responded "I think so because I was the only turban guy who was there."
Ahulawalia, who immigrated to the country three years ago from India, says the attack has left him shaken.
Now I’m feeling scared somehow … Now when I’m going to work, when I’m walking, I have some fear, like maybe someone is coming. Everyone comes to this country with new hope, but now there’s something, other feeling in the mind, like why, I didn’t say anything, why did this happen to me?” said Ahulawalia.
Ahulawalia added that he wants people to know that the Sikh community is there to help.
"People should know that these turban guys, we are here to help. We are not here to harm anyone. We are also here struggling, doing a job ourselves. Wake up in the morning at 6 a.m., go home at 7, 9 sometimes, and we don’t deserve this." Said Ahulawalia.
Police say they are investigating the matter, but members of the Sikh community want it looked into as a hate crime.
City council member Adrienne Adams spoke at an event Saturday where members of the Sikh and South Asian communities to speak out again the spike in anti-Asian hate. The city has seen 68 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 compared to 15 seen during the same time last year.
"We will continue to promote unity in our city, and we will stand up against bias and we will stand up against hate,” Said Adams.
Japheth Singh, an advocate, added that this assault in the wake of the Indianapolis FedEx shooting earlier this month that killed four Sikhs.
"We should be accepting of everyone. We all are entitled to a dignified life, a respectful life,” he said.