Columbia University professor attacked in possible hate crime in Manhattan

September 23, 2013 2:36:20 PM PDT
The NYPD is investigating a possible bias attack on a Sikh professor at Columbia University.

Dr. Prabhjot Singh was attacked just after 8 p.m. Saturday on 110th Street near Lennox Avenue, on the northern edge of Central Park. Singh had just dropped off his wife and 1-year old son nearby.

Police say he was knocked down and repeatedly punched by attackers who shouted anti-Muslim slurs.

Singh suffered a fractured jaw in the beating, which is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Police say Singh was approached by a group of 15 to 20 young men on bicycles. Police say one of the men pulled Singh's beard and as the group fled they kicked him several times to the body and face.

He was treated for his injuries.

There have been no arrests.

The attack came just hours after a Muslim woman was attacked during a pro-democracy rally in Times Square.

Speaking to reporters on Monday despite his broken jaw, Singh said he's overwhelmed by the support he's received after he was attacked, and said he's thankful that his injuries are not worse.

The follower of Sikhism says he's working with investigators from the NYPD hate crimes unit.

"I heard 'Get him, Osama', I heard terrorist," Singh said.

Singh says three bystanders came to his aid as the pack of bicyclists rode off.

Police have just released video of the group believed to have been his attackers.

Detectives returned to the scene Monday, looking for additional security camera video.

"We're looking at cameras, we're trying to identify these individuals, described as as many as 30 on bicycles," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Members of the Sikh community gathered Monday to support Dr. Singh. "It's really rare that we see in our community that people feel comfortable standing up and speaking out about their experience," said Amardeep Singh of the Sikh Coalition.

They also wanted to highlight what they say is a lingering problem: those of the Sikh faith being misidentified as Muslim.

"I think it's xenophobia, a fear of what we don't understand and what we don't know," said Kashrut Singh of SALDEF.