Christian Morales was charged with aggravated harassment and committing a hate crime in the attack on Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs professor Prabhjot Singh, at a court appearance Saturday, Daily Columbia Spectator reported.
While the investigation is still ongoing, Morales who was arrested late Friday night is the only person in custody, a New York Police Department spokesperson said.
Singh, an observant Sikh who wears a turban and has a beard, was walking with a friend along 110th Street near Lenox Avenue in Harlem on the evening of Saturday, Sep 21, when he was approached by a group of around 20 young men, Spectator said.
At the time, the men “made anti-Muslim statements and then they began punching the victim in the face.” The attackers dispersed after three passersby called for help, the daily said citing the police.
Despite suffering a broken jaw and bruising, Singh returned to work the following Tuesday.
He was optimistic at a press conference held that Monday, where he said that he would invite his attackers to his place of worship and teach them about Sikhism, the newspaper recalled.
“I think it’s critical to see that this is not the community we expect, and certainly not the country we expect,” Singh was quoted as saying at the press conference.
“It’s not the Harlem I know, and it’s certainly not going to change how I move around that neighborhood.”