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Teenager Charged With Hate Crime in Unprovoked Assault of 70-Year-Old Sikh Man in South Richmond Hill

Vernon Douglas (NYPD) and Nirmal Singh, 70, after he was punched in an unprovoked attack Sunday (Photo @JapneetSingh4NY)

April 15, 2022 By Christian Murray

A 19-year-old Brooklyn man was arrested on hate crime charges Thursday for allegedly punching a 70-year-old Sikh man in the face on a South Richmond Hill street earlier this month.

Vernon Douglas was taken into custody at his Watkins Street home in Brooklyn yesterday and arrested for assault, robbery and harassment—as hate crimes—for the unprovoked attack of Nirmal Singh.

Singh was punched in the face without a word being exchanged while walking in the vicinity of 95th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard at around 6:45 a.m. on April 3, authorities said. He was wearing his turban and other Sikh attire at the time he was assaulted. He was on his way to the Sikh Cultural Society Temple when he was attacked.

Singh’s nose was broken and he suffered bruising to his face. He a was treated at Jamaica Hospital and released.

The attack stunned the south Asian community and has caused outrage among elected officials and local residents.

“The attack on the 70-year-old Sikh man in Richmond Hill over the weekend was a despicable display of hatred and cowardice,” said State Sen. Joseph Addabbo at the time.

Singh was in New York as a visitor from India as part of a trip to North America to visit his son and daughter who are both living in Canada.  He has since returned to India.

The attack, however, was not an isolated bias incident. On Tuesday, two Sikh men, aged 76 and 64, were beaten by two individuals near the same Lefferts Boulevard and 95th Avenue corner.

In this case, the perpetrators punched the victims and hit them with a wooden stick. They also tore off the men’s turbans and tugged on their beards, according to police. No arrests have been made pertaining to this attack. It is unclear whether Douglas is connected to this incident.

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