WASHINGTON — An Indian American Sikh Uber driver was allegedly racially abused and strangulated by a passenger Dec. 5, in Bellingham, Washington.
According to media reports, the driver, who chose to remain anonymous, picked up Grifin Levi Sayers. The driver later made a 911 call saying he had been attacked by his passenger,
The police then arrested and booked 22-year-old Sayers on suspicion of second-degree assault and a failure-to-appear warrant for fourth-degree assault. According to police records, he was released on $13,000 bail the next day.
The driver told the police that Sayers took the cab to make some purchases and then returned to the pick-up location. It was at this point that the passenger became abusive and grabbed the driver by his throat and squeezed it violently.
He also made racial comments about the driver's ethnicity.
The driver somehow managed to get out of the cab to make a 911 call. When the police arrived, they were able to locate Sayers nearby and arrested him.
Hate crimes against Sikhs in the U.S. have always been on the radar for civil rights and minority groups. Anti-Sikh hate crimes rose by a whopping 200 percent since 2017, according to an FBI report.
Even as Sikh groups and minority organizations continue to make attempts to educate Americans on Sikhism and the tenets of its faith, Sikhs are often mistakenly targeted because of their turbans.
A statement from the Sikh Coalition adds: “This was very clearly a hate crime under the definition of the law,” said Amrith Kaur, Sikh Coalition legal director. “The attacker knew his Uber driver was Sikh, and he chose to both physically and verbally attack him because of it. We are thankful that the Bellingham Police Department are investigating bias as a motivator, and we trust that the Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will appropriately charge him with a hate crime moving forward.”