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Officials: Hate crime charges against man in Kennedy Airport attack

A Massachusetts man faces multiple hate crime charges after authorities said he mocked, threatened and kicked a head scarf-wearing Delta Airline employee at Kennedy Airport because he believed she was Muslim, shouting, “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you.”

Robin A. Rhodes, 57, of Worchester, had arrived at Terminal 2 on a Wednesday night flight from Aruba when he saw Delta employee Rabeeya Khan sitting in an office in the Delta Air Lines Sky Lounge, her head adorned with the scarf, authorities said. Rhodes asked her: “Are you [expletive] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?”

Rhodes then punched a door, which hit the back of Khan’s chair, according to a news release from the Queens District Attorney’s office. When Khan questioned Rhodes treatment of her he responded: “You did nothing but I am going to kick your [expletive],” according to the release.

Authorities said he then kicked Kahn in the right leg and stood in her way as she tried to get out of the office. She ran out when another employee came to her aid but Rhodes followed them, officials said.

He dropped to his knees so as to emulate someone in prayer, the release said, made disparaging comments about Islam and the terrorist group ISIS, and after mentioning Trump, told Khan: “You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You will see what happens.”

Rhodes faces charges of third-degree assault as a hate crime, second-degree unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, third-degree menacing as a hate crime, first-degree harassment as a hate crime, third-degree assault, second-degree unlawful imprisonment, second-degree aggravated harassment, menacing and first-degree harassment, said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

If convicted, Rhodes faces up to four years in prison, authorities said. Information about an attorney for Rhodes was not available.

“The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilized society — especially in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation,” Brown said in a statement. “Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here and when they do, regrettably occur, those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Delta spokesman Brian Kruse said Khan is an employee of a contractor.

“What happened in this incident is totally unacceptable and we have fully cooperated with authorities,” he said.


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