On the eve of the 14th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, there is concern about a potential rise in the number of hate crimes follows an attack involving a Darien man.
The west suburban man is recovering at home. He released a statement saying that no American should be afraid to practice their faith in our country, and he wants his assault to be investigated as a hate crime.
Inderjit Singh Mukker, 53, is bloodied and bruised after an attack that might have started as a case of road rage.
“He had blood all over his shirt. I was crying at this point, it was so senseless that this occurred,” said Kanwar Singh Mukker, his son.
During rush hour Tuesday evening along Cass Avenue, two cars stopped. Darien police were called after the assault, but it was what was said during the exchange that leads police to classify this as a hate crime.
“They called him ‘Osama,’ they called him a lot of racial slurs, and then my dad tried to avoid the situation – he parked up on the side to let him pass. But then instead he blocks off my dad’s car and comes out and starts beating aggressively on my dad,” Kanwar said.
Mukker, who is Sikh and wears a turban, is an American citizen who immigrated from India in the 1980s. His children were born and raised in the western suburbs.
While a suspected juvenile has not been charged, Darien’s police chief says the small but diverse suburb is no place for intolerance.
“We have a population of about 23,000 – it’s essential because we are so diverse that we do the best we can to get along,” said Darien Police Chief Ernest Brown.
Though Mukker is too sedated to speak in public, but he has released a statement Thursday night about the attack: “I’m thankful for the swift response of authorities to apprehend the individual, but without this being fully investigated as a hate crime, we risk ignoring the horrific pattern of intolerance, abuse and violence that Sikhs and other minority communities in this country continue to face.”
There was a show of support for Mukker and a push for tolerance, education, and religious understanding among all cultures and faiths in Lombard Thursday night.
“What we need is, we need education,” Rikhiraj said.
“We want people to understand when they see a Sikh, they should think, ‘That’s somebody I can count on, that’s somebody that if I ever needed help I could turn to that person,'” said Harsimran Kaur, Sikh Coalition.
The community and religious leaders are concerned about an uptick in hate crimes in the Chicago area. They say they are still targeted all these years since Sept. 11, 2001.