A 14-year-old Sikh student was viciously beaten near his school in what his parents believe is a hate crime.
The teen boy, who was wearing a traditional turban, was going about minding his own business when a figure slammed his fist into his head from behind. As the teen fell and curled up, his assailant, who reportedly studies in the same school as the Sikh student, continued punching him. The short clipping ended as the Sikh teen tried to crawl away.
The incident happened a block away from Kentridge High School in Kent, Washington, on Oct. 26 and was captured on Snapchat and then shared online.
The school officials claimed the attack happened because of an earlier classroom dispute between the two students and had nothing to do with race. However, the victim’s parents, who have requested that local media outlets withhold their son’s name, are outraged and tell a different story.
The family insisted the Sikh teen did not even know his attacker’s name and had not fought him at school. Instead, they claim their son was beaten up because of his race.
“He never interacted with this guy. He never know (sic) his name,” said the teen’s father, who also wished to remain anonymous. “I don't want to see this again happen with my son or anyone else. I don't want to see this.”
“I am feeling so, so bad because this happened with my son. They beat him from the backside and hurt him too much. This is a very big thing for me, here in America, in the U.S., because I can't imagine, I can't explain or myself how I am feeling,” he added.
Chris Loftis, a Kent School District employee, told Q13 the student who assaulted the teen and the student who filmed the exchange will both be appropriately punished. However, he failed to mention what those punishments will entail.
The victim’s family said the teen is recovering but fears he will be targeted again now that the video has gone viral.
The teen received support from many parents and community members who said the attacker needs to be held accountable.
“I am so sickened by what is happening in our country. I pledge to speak out against any injustice that I witness. I am so sorry for this ‘culture/sickness’ that is brewing. Stay strong and continue to fight back with love and integrity!” said one Facebook user.
The Kent area is home to many practicing Sikhs and the school district is very diverse, with more than 27,000 students speaking 150 languages.
The attack on the student came six months after another Sikh person from Kent, this time a 39-year-old man, was shot in the arm in his driveway by an unknown shooter after being told, “Go back to your own country.”
Since 9/11, Sikh-Americans say they have faced widespread discrimination and assaults — because their beards and turbans make them resemble Muslims. According to the FBI, anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States surged 67 percent in 2016, the highest they have been since 2001.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Keith Bedford