A Massachusetts man has been charged with hate crimes after he allegedly kicked, verbally abused and threatened a Muslim female airline employee at the Delta Sky Lounge at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday (25 January).
Robin Rhodes, of Worchester, Massachusetts reportedly told the woman, "[Donald] Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you." The airline employee has been identified as Rabeeya Khan, according to a statement released on Thursday (26 January) from Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
The 57-year-old accused faces up to four years in prison if found guilty of the multiple hate crime charges filed against him that includes assault, unlawful imprisonment, menacing and harassment. He is currently awaiting his arraignment at the Queens Criminal Court.
According to the court documents, the incident occurred at the Delta Sky Lounge at Terminal 2 of JFK Airport between 7.10pm and 9.45pm EST on Wednesday (post 12.10am GMT on Thursday) when Khan – wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf or hijab – was seated at her office.
Rhodes had arrived from Aruba and was waiting for a connecting flight to Massachusetts, when he allegedly approached Khan and asked: "Are you [expletive deleted] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?"
He then allegedly pushed a door, which hit the back of Khan's chair. She also claimed that when she questioned the man's actions, he replied: "You did nothing but I am going to kick your [expletive deleted] ass."
Rhodes then allegedly kicked Khan on her right leg and blocked her way, but she succeeded to run out of the office when another individual intervened.
However, Rhodes is believed to have followed her and got down on his knees, imitating the Muslim prayer stance and shouted, "[Expletive deleted] Islam, [Expletive deleted] ISIS [Islamic State], 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 Queens attorney office statement read.
The accused reportedly told police at the time of his arrest that he realised he was going to jail for "disorderly conduct". He stated that he could not determine whether the victim was a "man or woman because their back was to me and they had something covering their head".
District Attorney Brown said: "The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilised society – especially in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation. Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here and when they do, regrettably occur, those responsible will be brought to justice."