Robin Rhodes of Worcester, Massachusetts, was charged with hate crimes yesterday (January 27), following his arrest for assaulting a Muslim Delta Air Lines contractor.
On January 26, Rhodes landed at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and went to the Delta Sky Club lounge to wait for his connecting flight home. Contractor Rabeeya Khan was in her office, which is located inside the lounge. According to a statement issued by Queens district attorney Richard A. Brown, Rhodes approached the office and said, “Are you [expletive deleted] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?” to Khan, who wears a hijab.
He then allegedly punched the door, making it hit the back of Khan’s chair. When she asked what she did to make him angry, he reportedly said, “You did nothing, but I am going to kick your [expletive deleted] ass,” then kicked her in the leg.
Khan backed into a corner of the office to escape him, and Rhodes stepped inside and blocked the doorway. When someone came to calm Rhodes, Khan ran out into the lounge, were Rhodes allegedly followed her, knelt on the floor in an imitation of a praying Muslim, and said, “[Expletive deleted] Islam, [Expletive deleted] ISIS, Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You will see what happens.”
The alleged assault was investigated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department. Rhodes was arraigned in Queens County Criminal Court yesterday on the following charges: menacing and first-degree harassment, first-degree harassment as a hate crime, second-degree aggravated harassment, second-degree unlawful imprisonment, second-degree unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, third-degree assault, third-degree assault as a hate crime and third-degree menacing as a hate crime. The district attorney says that he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison if convicted.
“The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilized society—especially in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation,” District Attorney Brown said in the statement. “Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here and when they do, regrettably occur, those responsible will be brought to justice.”
Both the FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center have noted an uptick in hate crimes over the past year, including crimes against people who are perceived to be Muslim.