A 40-year-old man has been charged with hate crime for racially abusing and throwing drinks at a Sikh man. The accused had mistaken him for a Muslim.
The Kern County District Attorney's Office filed misdemeanor charges against David Scott Hook from Bakersfield for allegedly accosting Balmeet Singh outside a California Avenue restaurant last month, cursing him, threatening him and drenching him with a drink.
Singh, while narrating the incident, had said that he and his friends were out to dinner at the Habit Burger in Bakersfield, California. He decided to step outside of the restaurant to make a phone call and that is when the incident unfolded.
Singh said in the middle of his conversation, a man walked out of Blaze Pizza and headed straight toward him.
"He says you're trying to blow up this country, I should kill you. I'm going to kill you right now. And he used a lot of curse words and he seemed very angry," Singh was quoted as saying by KERO-TV.
Singh said he yelled back at the man that he was a racist and he was the problem. Singh said the man continued to yell and then threw a drink at him.
According to a statement from the District Attorney's office, Hook was charged on Saturday with one count of interference with the exercise of a civil right and one count of battery.
Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green was quoted by The Bakersfield Californian as saying that the civil rights charge falls under the legal category of a hate crime.
"It is alleged defendant David Hook threw liquid on another individual because he appeared to be of a different religion or race," the statement said.
The alleged attacker "said I was a threat to the country I grew up in, the country I was born in," Singh had told hundreds who gathered last week at a gurdwara in southwest Bakersfield.
The event, which included several guest speakers, was called a "dialogue against hate."
In a conversation with a Bakersfield Police Department investigator, Singh said he was told the man was identified and questioned. The man told police he thought Singh was a Muslim.