New Jersey Man Arrested for Racially Abusing Indian American Sikh
Steven Laverty allegedly called the Sikh man a terrorist, a Muslim, and said that he should go back to his own country.
A New Jersey man was charged with fourth degree bias intimidation, harassment for striking or offensive touching, and harassment for communication in a manner to cause alarm to the victim, for calling a Sikh American man a terrorist and telling him to go back to his own country.
Steven Laverty, 20, of Morris Plains, was also charged with possession and being under the influence of controlled dangerous substances. Another man Antony Wyzga, 23, from Lake Hiawatha, who was with Laverty was charged with possession of Vyvanse and under 50 grams of marijuana, being under the influence of CDS without a prescription and failure to turn over CDS to police.
Laverty allegedly called the man “a terrorist, a Muslim,” and said that he should “go back to his own country,” the Daily Record reported. The victim is Sikh.
Laverty and Wyzga were parked outside the Route 46 Exxon station, Parsippany on Feb. 20 when the former allegedly began verbally harassing the Indian American Sikh man. The victim tried to take a photo of the license plate of Laverty, following which the duo allegedly exited the car and tried to hit the Indian American man.
According to the police, Laverty used racial slurs and tried to take his phone away. The Sikh man also dodged a punch and called 911 when the duo drove away in their 2014 Toyota Corolla.
Assistant prosecutor Justin Tellone told Morris County Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz that Laverty called the man “a terrorist, a Muslim, and that he should go back to his own country,” according to the Daily Record. “Of course, the victim is not Muslim, he is Sikh,” Tellone said.
Laverty was arrested while attempting to leave the parking lot of a 7-Eleven after the Sikh man called the police. The judge ruled that Laverty should be arrested owing to his long history of drug abuse. He has been arrested multiple times as a juvenile. After his latest arrest in June 2017, he was out on conditional release. He has been arrested three times since then on drug-related disorderly person charges, and had completed a rehabilitation program just two weeks before the Feb. 20 incident, according to the Daily Record.
Wyzga was also detained for skipping four court-ordered appearances. He too was out on conditional release from marijuana arrest since August.
This is not the first racist incident against Sikhs in America in recent weeks. On March 3, a man in Louisiana was arrested for driving his car into a Sikh-owned convenience store. The Sikh mayor of Hoboken City, New Jersey, Ravinder Bhalla, acknowledged recently that he and his family received death threats. Ahead of his election to the post, racist fliers were distributed against him in the city.