SOUTH HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two Sikh teenagers say they were the targets of a hate crime at a Long Island mall over the weekend.
CBS2’s Alice Gainer spoke with one of the teens and his father.READ MORE: New York's COVID State Of Emergency Set To Expire Thursday
“Physically I’m OK, but mentally… I have a 3-year-old brother. I don’t want this happening to him,” 13-year-old Chaz Bedi said.
“He’s like, ‘Hey Muhammad, come over here.’ Well, that hurts me immediately because my name is obviously not Muhammad. It’s kind of stereotypical,” he said.
Chaz says he walked up to them.
“We walk up to him and we say, ‘What’s up?’ Then we realize he’s with a larger group of people, and we’re not trying to get into any fights or arguments or anything, so we keep walking by,” he said.
But the group allegedly followed them and Chaz says it escalated with one teen allegedly saying, “Shut up before I knock that ball off your head.”
Chaz, who is Sikh and wears a turban, noticed someone was recording on their cell phone and then…
“He jumps in front of me and then he hits the left side of my face,” he said.
Chaz and his friend went into a store and waited.
An employee at another store eventually asked them what happened and mall security was called.READ MORE: 'Diaphragm Law' Banning NYPD Officers From Applying Pressure To Suspect's Torso Struck Down
Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit detectives are now investigating.
“We wear turbans because of our religious beliefs. That doesn’t mean you should attack anyone because of what they looked like,” said Satbir Singh, Chaz’s father.
His father says they are pressing charges.
“Part of me says, hey, these are kids, let it go, we’ll talk to their parents. Another part of me says no, we can’t let this go because if these kids get it easy, they’re gonna go hang out with each other and give each other high-fives and say, ‘Ha, look what we did, we walked away,’” Singh said.
He’s also been in touch with local officials about educating children in the community and worries about whether his son will feel safe going back to the mall.
“It really disturbs me that you just took away his freedom,” Singh said.
His son has a message for the teens accused in the attack.
“Try to educate yourself on who we are as Sikhs and also to never do this to anyone,” Chaz said.
Since many hate crimes go unreported, they’re also urging people to contact police if something happens to them.
No arrests have been made so far.MORE NEWS: Stamford Police Searching For Driver In Hit-Run That Left Victim Critically Injured
His father says there is cell phone video of his son being punched that mall security saw.