In the middle of last week, a California man was arrested and charged with a hate crime after reportedly assaulting a Sikh 7-Eleven employee, reports Yahoo.
The man in question, John Crain, attacked the convenience store clerk on Wednesday, February 13, as shown on surveillance footage. The 7-Eleven employee recounted the incident to the Marysville Police Department. As the Sacramento Bee details, the clerk explained that Crain attempted to leave the store without paying for coffee.
This confrontation apparently escalated — John Crain proceeded to punch and attack the employee, and threw hot coffee on him before leaving. As the Sacramento Bee notes, once Crain was in police custody, he did admit that he had assaulted the clerk. He also explained that he “hates Muslims.” As later confirmed by CBS13, the 7-Eleven employee is not Muslim, but rather Sikh.
The clerk was injured in the incident, both from having hot coffee poured on him and from being punched by Crain. The aforementioned surveillance footage provided law enforcement with a useful description of the assailant. Later on in the day, police officers responded to another incident in the surrounding area. They came across a suspect matching Crain’s description and were able to make an arrest, thanks to the video footage captured by 7-Eleven’s security cameras.
— FOX40 News (@FOX40) February 16, 2019
John Crain was arrested on February 13 and was sent to Yuba County Jail. His charges include theft, assault, and committing a hate crime.
Various Muslim and Sikh organizations came together later that week and released a press statement (via the Council on American-Islamic Relations) which condemned the attacks.
“Although Sikhs often bear the brunt of bigotry across the country, we must be clear that, over the past several years, hate crimes have been on the rise against all minority communities. We must stand together to stop the irresponsible rhetoric from political leaders that put us all at risk,” explained Amar Singh Shergill, a board member for the American Sikh Public Affairs Association.
Civil rights attorney Saad Sweilem, who works at the Sacramento Valley office for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, also weighed in on the matter.
“We condemn this attack on an individual because of his faith. This hate crime represents yet another attack on our Sikh brothers and sisters fueled by Islamophobia and those emboldened by this administration’s xenophobic policies and sentiments. We welcome the hate crime charges and encourage law enforcement to continue to take these clear incidents of bias seriously,” Sweilem wrote.
This is not the first time Sikh men have been attacked after being mistaken as Muslim. As ABC News reported last year, two teenagers in Northern California were arrested after attacking an elderly Sikh man while he was enjoying a morning walk.