A 41-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly beat 18-year-old Tarek Elsayed with a baseball bat while yelling racial slurs but the New York City Police Department is not investigating the attack as a hate crime, according to the Egyptian American teen.
The assault occurred last Thursday not far from a police station on Staten Island, just down the street from Elsayed's home. The victim says he got a call from his mother that night to go pick up his cousin. As he left his townhouse complex, he was approached by a neighbor, Emilio Lopez, who Elsayed says he has run-ins with before.
Lopez had yelled slurs and profanities at the teen before the attack that left him hospitalized with a broken hand, according to Elsayed.
"Get the ef out the way, you ef-ing Arab, you’re annoying. You don’t know how to drive," Elsayed recalled his neighbor saying a month and a half ago.
When Elsayed saw Lopez approaching through his rearview mirror, he heard slurs yelled at him again. Lopez allegedly said he would break Elsayed's jaw and told him to go back to his country, threatening that he knows where his friends live.
Then the victim noticed one of his tires was flat, so he stepped out of the car. That's when Elsayed says Lopez attacked him with a bat.
Police later arrested Lopez and charged him with assault, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment. But Elsayed's family along with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) are calling on the NYPD to investigate the attack as a hate crime.
"This was definitely a hate crime. The words he was using to discriminate, he was discriminating my for being different than him," Elsayed told NBC New York.
Elsayed says Lopez broke his hand, fracked his pinky and his wrist. He's also left with swelling around his head. He and his family say they're now concerned about their safety, feeling unsafe in their own neighborhood and feeling hated for who they are.
When asked about what he wants the police to do, Elsayed said, "I want justice, I don’t want anyone to have to face what I went through because it’s not right for someone else different to hear that."
The NYPD has not responded to requests for comment on whether the attack will be investigated as a hate crime.
In a statement, CAIR-New York Legal Director Ahmed Mohamed said, “This brazen attack on a teenager is disturbing and has no place in our city. No one should be attacked or live in fear because of their race or ethnicity. The assailant made his motives very clear and the NYPD needs to open a hate crime investigation.”
Just last week, the organization said it also called on the NYPD to investigate an attack on a teenage woman wearing a hijab as a hate crime.