Action against hate crime: Jury charges American for assaulting Indian-origin man in US

In recent times, we have been witnessing a number of hate crimes being committed against people of Indian-origin in the US. People have been demanding justice for the victims who were killed in hate crimes.

Some relief for Indian-origin people came when a federal jury in the US charged an American for committing a hate crime against an Indian-origin person.

Action against hate crime

Jeffrey Allen Burgess (54) of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, has been accused of intentionally harming a man named Ankur Mehta on November 22 because of his 'perceived race, colour and national origin', according to reports.

On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Burgess on a hate crime charge in connection with the alleged assault at a Red Robin restaurant in South Hills Village, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Tom Wheeler, acting assistant attorney General of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and Soo C Song, acting US attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, announced the indictment.

At the time of the incident, Burgess was sitting next to Mehta inside the Red Robin restaurant when he allegedly began insulting him and then repeatedly elbowed him in the head, said police.

"I don't want you sitting next to me…you people," Burgess was quoted as saying by witnesses in addition to his anti-Muslim racial slurs, according to a criminal complaint filed by Bethel Park police.

Action against hate crime

Witnesses told police Burgess struck Mehta four or five times and called him a "(expletive) Muslim," according to the complaint. Mehta was treated at St Clair Hospital for a laceration to the upper lip and a loose tooth. Mehta is of Indian descent, police said.

In addition to the slurs, Burgess told Mehta "things are different now," police said, which authorities believe was a reference to the election of US President Donald Trump. If convicted, Burgess faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years of prison, a fine of US$250,000 or both.

Burgess also faces state charges of ethnic intimidation, public drunkenness and simple assault stemming from the same incident.

The indictment of Burgess comes amid a series of suspected hate crime cases targeting Indian-Americans. On February 22, Indian nationals Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were shot at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, by a man shouting "get out of my country". Kuchibhotla, 32, later died at a hospital. On March 3, a Sikh-American was shot and injured in Kent, Washington, by a gunman who reportedly told him to "go back to your own country."