Bill responds to racially charged attack on Sikh taxi driver in April
Senator Marisol Alcántara, together with Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Sr., victims of passenger crime, the New York Immigration Coalition, the Taxi Workers Alliance, and the Association of Livery Base Owners, celebrated the passage of a bill protecting drivers from hate crimes and on-the-job attacks afternoon at the dispatcher of the Audubon Car and Limousine Service, 2129 Amsterdam Avenue, in Washington Heights.
On April 17th, 2017, The New York Daily News reported that Harkirat Singh, a Sikh immigrant from India, was assaulted by an intoxicated passenger, in an altercation that led to the passenger punching him and stealing his turban, which is the primary symbol of his faith.
The bill, S.5690B, sponsored by Senator Marisol Alcántara, would protect for-hire drivers, including taxi drivers, from being assaulted on the job by creating a violent Class D felony, punishable by up to seven years imprisonment for assaulting a for-hire driver. Postings in taxis would alert passengers of the new protections for drivers.
State Senator Marisol Alcántara said: “Taxi and livery drivers are very vulnerable to attacks or crime from their passengers, and in New York State, many of those drivers are Muslim or Sikh. Considering the uptick in bias crimes in New York after the 2016 election and the high overall risk of harassment or assault drivers face on the job, I thought it was important that both passengers and drivers knew that assaulting a driver would have serious consequences, not just a slap on the wrist. I urge the Assembly to pass this important piece of legislation.”
State Senator Reverend Rubén Diáz said: "I am proud to stand beside Senator Marisol Alcantara to announce this important piece of legislation. Our taxi and livery cab drivers are too often criminal targets, and it is our expectation that when this bill is signed into law, it will not only further punish the guilty, but also, deter crime."