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Man who allegedly assaulted Sikh men in New York City charged with hate crimes

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A 20-year-old man has been arrested for robbing and assaulting two Sikh men on a street in Queens, the New York Police Department told CBS News. The attack came just a week after a 70-year-old Sikh man was injured in a separate incident in the same neighborhood, according to the Sikh Coalition.

"Sikhs are no strangers to hate violence, but the recent string of repeated attacks in the same location is especially disheartening and reprehensible," Nikki Singh, senior manager of policy and advocacy for the Sikh Coalition, said in a statement Wednesday. "We continue to stand with all the communities who continue to experience this kind of trauma."

At around 7 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of an assault in Queens, New York. Upon arriving at the scene, officers found two men, identified by the NYPD as a 76-year-old and a 64-year-old, suffering minor injuries.

According to a preliminary investigation, two men approached and beat the two victims with their fists and a wooden stick. The men then stripped both victims of their religious headwear and took their money. 

The victims were transported to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and are in stable condition, the NYPD said. 

Hezekiah Coleman, 20, was arrested and charged with two counts of robbery classified as a hate crime, one count of robbery, one count of assault classified as a hate crime, and one count of aggravated harassment, the NYPD said. The other suspect has not been arrested.

The Sikh Coalition said it has been in contact with the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, and that officials are still searching for the other suspect. 

The attack comes a little more than a week after Nirmal Singh, a 70-year-old Sikh man visiting from Canada, was punched in the face while walking early in the morning to the Sikh Cultural Society in Queens, CBS New York reported. On Thursday, NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell announced a 19-year-old from Brooklyn had been arrested and charged with robbery, aggravated harassment and assault as a hate crime in connection with that incident.

It is unclear if the two incidents, which happened in the same neighborhood, are connected.

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