A man returning home from a trip to Aruba through New York's John F. Kennedy Airport was charged with hate crimes after a Muslim airport employee was assaulted Wednesday night, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Thursday.
According to the D.A.'s report, Robin A. Rhodes was walking through the Delta Sky Lounge at JFK when he approached the employee, Rabeeya Khan, who was sitting in her office. Khan is Muslim and wears a hijab. He allegedly started shouting at her before blocking her from exiting the room. From the report:
When she managed to escape the room and run to the front desk of the lounge, he chased her and began imitating Muslim prayers, according to the report, shouting, "[Expletive deleted] Islam, [Expletive deleted] ISIS, Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you”:
“I guess I am going to jail for disorderly conduct. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman because their back was to me and they had something covering their head,” Rhodes allegedly told police as he was being arrested, according to the report.
He will be charged with three counts of hate crimes, assault, unlawful imprisonment, aggravated harassment, and menacing, prosecutors said. Rhodes could face up to four years in prison if he's convicted.
A spokesperson for Queens Criminal Court said that as of Friday morning Rhodes, who lives in Massachusetts, was awaiting arraignment.
Delta told NBC New York that Khan is employed by a contractor, but that "what happened in this incident is totally unacceptable and Delta has and will continue to fully cooperate with authorities in this investigation."
Separately on Wednesday, the New York City Commission on Human Rights charged a contractor at JFK with discriminating against Muslim employees in violation of the city's human rights laws. The commission alleges that the wheelchair assistance contractor had been denying Muslim employees breaks for prayers and Ramadan. The company, Pax Assist Inc., did not immediately respond to a request for comment and has 30 days to respond to the charges.