In September, Columbia University professor Dr. Prabhjot Singh was attacked by a large group of young men near 110th Street and Lennox in Harlem, not far from his home. The men grabbed his beard, punched him in the face, and knocked him to the ground, all while calling him “Osama” and “terrorist.” Dr. Singh is Sikh.
Yesterday, police reported they have arrested one man suspected of participating in the attack. Christian Morales, 20, is accused of pulling Singh’s beard as the attack began.
Singh suffered multiple injuries in the attack, including a fractured jaw and loosened teeth. But in an essay in the New York Daily News, he wrote that he felt thankfulness and gratitude:
If they had attacked me any more violently, I may not be awake right now to tell my story. If they had attacked me even half an hour earlier, they would have harmed my wife and one-year-old son. And if they had attacked me anywhere else, I may not have had bystanders there to save me.”
Morales is being charged with aggravated harassment. Singh has not commented on the arrest. In the same Daily News piece, he wrote that he hoped his young attackers would be not just incarcerated, but taught “love, compassion and understanding.” He explains:
Even more important to me than my attackers being caught is that they are taught. My tradition teaches me to value justice and accountability, and it also teaches me love, compassion and understanding. It’s a tough situation. I care about the people in my local community. I want the streets to be safe for my young son, but at the same time, I am not comfortable with the idea of putting more young teenagers from my neighborhood on the fast track to incarceration. This incident, while unfortunate, can help initiate a local conversation to create greater understanding within the community.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 21, 2014