Cops seek cyclists who assaulted physician and professor in possible bias crime

Prabhjot Singh

Prabhjot Singh (Credit: Prabhjot Singh)

Police have released a video surveillance tape of the teenaged bicyclists believed to have attacked a prominent Sikh professor and physician who was the victim of a possible hate crime near 110th St. and Lenox Ave.

Dr. Prabhjot Singh, 31, an assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University and a resident physician at Mt. Sinai Hospital, told reporters he was attacked about 8:15 p.m. Saturday night by a group of 15 - 20 male teens on bikes shouting "get him!" and "Osama!" and "terrorist!" His beard was pulled, he was knocked to the ground, and beaten about the face and torso until three good Samaritans intervened, he said at a press conference Monday.

Singh co-authored an Op-Ed in the New York Times last year calling on the FBI to better classify and quantify expressions of anti-Sikh hatred, noting that while some assailants target Sikhs in the mistaken belief they are Muslim, white supremacist groups have targeted Sikhs specifically.

He had written the op ed as an academic, he said Monday, but now has "a deep amount of empathy for all the other people who experience things like this, whether or not they make the news." His heart went out to a Muslim woman who was assaulted shortly after him, though he did not know if the two crimes were related.

All hate crimes city wide are down 24%, from 270 to 205, as of this time last year.  But the number of anti-Muslim bias crimes rose 80% (up from 5 to 9), as of Sept. 15, the NYPD said last night.

In June, the FBI agreed to track hate crimes against Sikhs, said Amardeep Singh, program director for the Sikh Coalition. The NYPD, as a contributor to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, will begin collecting data involving Sikhs specifically in 2015, said Amardeep Singh. The NYPD, he said, would also be changing its training and "we're working with them to help write that curriculum."

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