Rabeeya Khan, who is Muslim and wears a hijab,was sitting in an office while at work in the Delta Sky Lounge at Terminal 2 of John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, when Robin A. Rhodes of Worcester, Mass., allegedly shouted obscenities at her then kicked her because “Trump is here now.”
The 57-year-old businessman had just landed from Aruba and was waiting for a connecting flight to Massachusetts on Wednesday night, according to astatement released by Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
Rhodes allegedly came up to theoffice door and said, “Are you [expletive deleted] sleeping Are you praying What are you doing”
He then allegedly punched the door, which hit the back of her chair. Prosecutors said that when Khan asked Rhodes what she did to him he said, “You did nothing but I am going to kick your [expletive deleted] ass.”
Rhodes then kicked her in the right leg. In an effort to get away, Khan moved to a corner of the office, according to prosecutors.
But Rhodes kicked the door, stepped into the office and blocked her from leaving.At this point, another individual is said to have come over to the office to try and calm Rhodes down. He moved away from the door and Khan ran out of the office to the front desk of the lounge.
Prosecutors said that Rhodes then followed Khan, got down on his knees and began to bow down in imitation of a Muslim praying.
He shouted, “[Expletive deleted] Islam, [expletivedeleted] ISIS, 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.”
At the time of his arrest Rhodes allegedly told police, “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 was arraigned before Queens Criminal Court and charged with nine counts including multiple hate crimes, according to prosecutors, and faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
He was held on $50,000 bond/$30,000 cash bail and is scheduled to return to court February 8.The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department conducted the investigation.
Rhodes is the president of Nitrofreeze Cryogenic Solutions, a metals company based in Worcester. His mother, Dorothy Rhodes, told the Associated Press that the behavior alleged by authorities is not typical of her son.
“It’s not like him at all,” she said. “He’s not a violent person. He’s very kind.”
Rhodes also said her son “goes out of his way to hire people of different races and ethnicities.”
However, Brown, the district attorney, said “The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilized society.”
Khan, 60, suffered substantial pain and redness in her right leg and was “placed in fear of physical injury, annoyance and alarm as a result of Rhodes’ alleged actions,” according to the charges.
Delta Air Lines released a statementFriday, which said that Khan is employed by a contractor, not by the company directly.
“What happened in this incident is totally unacceptable and Delta has made its stance clear on these types of events,” the company said. “People who are violent or exhibit bullying behavior are not welcome.”
President said executive order is not a Muslim ban but suggested Christians will be given priority over other refugees. Federal lawsuit says the order “is based on bigotry, not reality.”
In November, following the presidential election, a Trump supporter went on a profanity-filled rant during a Delta flight, which was caught on video.
Delta also came under fire in October when Tamika Cross, a Black physician, said she was denied by flight attendants when offering to assist another passenger during an in-flight emergency.
Khan’s union, 32BJ SEIU, released a statement that said, in part:
“[Khan’s] assailant invoked President Trump and allegedly targeted Ms. Khan for being Muslim We denounce these horrific, un-American attacks, which remind us that discrimination can happen anywhere on the streets or at work and we denounce those creating the environment in which hate speech and discrimination are on the rise.
“Like Rabeeya Khan, who has real reason to be afraid, too many American working families are living in fear as the Trump administration unrolls its nationalist agenda of persecution and division targeting immigrants, refugees and those of Muslim faith.
Protesters along with lawmakers lashed out against the detainment of immigrants at airports, including a married couple with disabilities in their 80s and a five-year-old boy.
“It is up to all of us to stand up and protect those who are attacked and disrespected, and to actively oppose hateful and discriminatory policies. Our airports are international hubs, as diverse as New York itself, and airport workers are on the front lines keeping millions of passengers safe and secure.”
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The following day, demonstrators gathered at several major airports around the country in a massive protest of the measure.