Two teenagers in California, including the son of a police chief, were charged on Wednesday with attacking a Sikh man who was confronted on a residential street, knocked to the ground, kicked and spat on, the authorities said.
The assault on the 71-year-old man on Monday in Manteca, Calif., which was captured on video by a home security camera, shared similarities with a July 31 attack on another Sikh man in the same region of Northern California. While the authorities have labeled the earlier attack a hate crime, the Manteca Police Department said the later episode appeared to be an attempted robbery, not an attack based on prejudice.
On the surveillance video, which the police released this week, two teenagers stop the Sikh man on a sidewalk and follow him into the street as he appears to try to get away. But less than a minute into the encounter, the man is shoved, falls to the pavement and slams his head, causing his turban to topple over.
The footage does not include audio, and the Sikh man does not speak English and could not understand what the teenagers were saying during the assault, the police said. The man, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital for treatment and later released, the authorities said.
On Wednesday, the police arrested a 16-year-old, whose name was withheld because of his age, and an 18-year-old, Tyrone McAllister, who were both charged with attempted robbery, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon. The arrest of Mr. McAllister drew a rebuke and apology from his father, Darryl McAllister, the chief of the Union City Police Department, south of Oakland.
Chief McAllister said that his son started to get into trouble with the law several years ago and had been “estranged from our family and our home” in recent months.
“My stomach has been churning from the moment I learned this news,” Chief McAllister wrote on his department’s Facebook page. “Even though my status as a law enforcement leader has no bearing or relation to the case whatsoever, I am nonetheless devastated by how much the nature of my son’s actions are such a departure from everything I have stood for in my personal life and in my 37-year policing career.”
It was not clear whether Tyrone McAllister, who was being held in the San Joaquin County Jail, or the other teenager, who was being held in the county’s juvenile detention center, had hired lawyers. Mr. McAllister was sentenced to three months in jail in April for misdemeanor assault and theft, according to court records.
While the Manteca police did not label the assault a hate crime, Sikhs in the United States have often been targets of discrimination, particularly after the Sept. 11 attacks. In some assaults, Sikh men have been wrongly assumed to be Muslims.
There are more than 25 million Sikhs worldwide, including about 500,000 in the United States, according to the Sikh Coalition in New York. Sikhism is about 500 years old, making it one of the youngest religions in the world, and was founded in the Indian state of Punjab. The monotheistic religion promotes self-reliance and individual responsibility. Worshipers follow the teachings of the 10 Sikh gurus.
The religion is full of symbolism. Sikh men wear distinctive turbans, which represent the courage to fight injustice, and keep their beards uncut, which signals an acceptance of God’s will.
Not long after the first Sikhs arrived in the United States in the late 1800s, they were victims in racist attacks. The most notable was in 1907 in Bellingham, Wash., where white workers accused South Asian immigrants of stealing their jobs in lumber mills and started to riot. They destroyed the immigrants’ property, stole their goods and forced them out of town.
There have been several high-profile episodes since 2001, including immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks. On Sept. 15 of that year, an Arizona man fatally shot the Sikh owner of a gas station in Mesa after mistaking him for an Arab.
In July 2004, a Long Island man was charged with a hate crime after a Sikh man in a turban was beaten unconscious on a Queens sidewalk in Richmond Hill, which has a large Punjabi population.
In August 2012, a man with ties to white supremacy groups opened fire inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee, killing six worshipers.
More recently, Waris Ahluwalia, an American actor and designer, said in February 2016 that Aeroméxico had barred him from boarding a plane in Mexico for a flight to New York because he refused to remove his turban.
And in May 2017, two Texas men were sentenced to three years in prison after punching a Sikh man in California and cutting off his hair. That attack was in Richmond, Calif., near Oakland and about 80 miles from the two recent assaults in California.
In Canada, the police said in March that they were investigating an attack on a Sikh man waiting for a bus as a possible hate crime. Two men confronted him and asked about his ethnicity and his beard before yelling racist slurs and attacking him, the police said. They knocked him to the ground and stole his turban, as well as his phone and bus pass.
In the attack on July 31 of this year, in which there have been no arrests, two men ambushed Surjit Malhi of Turlock, Calif., threw sand in his eyes and hit him in the head with what appeared to be a stick and a belt. His truck was also vandalized with a message: “Go back to your country.”