MARYSVILLE (CBS13) — A Marysville man is behind bars charged with a hate crime and assault. He walked into a 7-Eleven and threw hot coffee in the clerk's face. He later told police he did it because he thought the clerk was Muslim.
"It's fueled by hate and it's an attack against all of us, so we need to stand up together to make sure that we put this kind of bigotry to an end," said Amar Shergill, a board member with American Sikh Public Affairs Association.
The store clerk is still recovering after being assaulted earlier this week. Just before 2 o'clock Wednesday morning, a man dressed in black walked into the 7-Eleven on Highway 70.
Police said in a press release the man made a cup of coffee and tried to leave without paying. When the clerk confronted the man, video surveillance showed him throwing the hot coffee into the clerk's face, punching the man and running.
Later that day, police arrested John Crain who told them he did it because the clerk was Muslim.
"It's wrong," said Vincent Henry, who lives near the 7-Eleven. "That right there is really a hate crime."
But according to another clerk, Baljeet Singh, Crain was mistaken.
"No, He's Sikh!" Singh said, describing his coworker. "I come from India."
A mix-up that Shergill said happens time and time again.
"We stand with our Muslim brothers our LGBTQ sisters and brothers and the Jewish community so that they know that an attack against any one of us is an attack against all of us," he told CBS13.
He said the Sikh community has seen the number of ani-Sikh hate crimes go up since the 2016 election.
"We're trying to get our political leaders to be responsible because when they speak, bigots, like we saw in Marysville, will act," Shergill said.
So what's the answer to keeping incidents like this from happening again?
"I think the solution is more communication with people, direct communication, living with people of different ethnicities," said Jay Inglee, who works in Grass Valley.
Singh told CBS13 his coworker is still healing from the attack, and he hopes this incident doesn't overshadow the nice customers he sees every day.
"There are many good people who come and appreciate all of us," Singh said.
Crain is being held at Yuba County Jail charged with theft, assault and a hate crime.
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