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Darien Attack Of Sikh Man Upgraded To Hate Crime

(CBS) -- A 17-year-old has been charged with a hate crime for attacking a Sikh man last week in west suburban Darien.

The DuPage County State's Attorney's office says the boy is charged as a juvenile with one felony count of hate crime. He was previously charged with five felony counts of aggravated battery for the incident that happened on September 8.


Inderjit Singh Mukker appeared at a press conference and rally on Cass Avenue today. He says was driving when he and another driver pulled over to the side of the road. That's when he told police the teen got out, shouted racial slurs and punched him in the face.

"He called me Bin Laden and to go back to my country," Mukker said. "I was attacked for my brown skin, turban and a beard. I was assaulted in my car because I am a Sikh."

Police tracked the teen to his Willowbrook home where he reportedly punched a police office in their face when they arrested him.

"I am grateful that the DuPage County prosecutor has filed hate crime charges against my attacker. I thank Mr. Robert Berlin and his office for understanding that this was much more than an assault or a case of road rage, this was a hate crime because of the color of my skin and article of faith."

Sikh Rally
A rally was held on Cass Avenue in Darien calling for the charges in the attack to be upgraded to a hate crime. (Credit: Lisa Fielding).

Narinder Singh of the Sikh Coalition says the state's attorney's decision to upgrade the charges is an important step.

"The designation this act as a hate crime is about acknowledging the problem that hate based violence creates in this society. It's about showing that our government is committed to taking on this hate with purpose and conviction," said Singh. "Hate based crime attack the very essence of the American dream."

The Sikh Coalition had planned the press conference and rally to pressure the city to upgrade the charges. They say they are happy and relieved with today's decision.

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