A 17-year-old has been charged with a hate crime for attacking a Sikh man last week in west suburban Darien.
The boy is charged as a juvenile with one felony count of hate crime, the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office announced Tuesday.
He was previously charged with five felony counts of aggravated battery for the incident that started about 5:15 p.m. on Sept. 8, according to the state’s attorney’s office. His name was withheld because he is a minor.
Police responded to a call of a battery near Cass Avenue and 69th Street, and found 53-year-old Inderjit Singh Mukker in the driver’s seat of his vehicle with cuts and bruises to his cheeks, according to prosecutors and Darien police.
Mukker and the teenage boy had each pulled over to the side of the road, where the teen got out and punched Mukker in the face, authorities said. The boy then drove away.
Police tracked the teen to his Willowbrook home, where he punched a police officer in the face when they arrested him, prosecutors. said.
Darien police Chief Ernest Brown said the case was initially investigated as a possible hate crime.
Mukker, a Sikh American, had been driving to a grocery in Darien when someone pulled up alongside his car and began yelling racial slurs, “Terrorist, go back to your country, Bin Laden!” according to a statement from Mark Reading-Smith, spokesman for the Sikh Coalition.
Mukker turned onto Cass Avenue, but was repeatedly cut off by the other driver, according to the statement. He pulled over to the side of the road to let the other vehicle pass, but that driver also pulled over, approached his vehicle and assaulted Mukker, punching him repeatedly in the face.
Mukker was taken to the hospital, where he received six stitches and treatment for lacerations, bruises and swelling.
“Crime based on hatred or prejudices have no place in our society,” State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement.
“Any physical attack motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s pre-conceived bias against another individual based on race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation is a crime not only against the victim but against society as a whole. Anyone accused of such behavior will be vigorously prosecuted and held accountable for their actions,” Berlin said.
“We are thankful that Robert Berlin and the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office have filed a hate crime chard in this case,” the Sikh Coalition’s legal director Harsimran Kaur said in a statement.
“For the Sikh American community, a formal hate crime charge was never about a harsher penalty, but instead prosecuting the crime for what it was. We can’t combat the problem of hatred against minority communities in America unless our elected officials and government agencies acknowledge the problem exists,” Kaur said.
No court date has been set.