A Massachusetts resident faces charges stemming from an alleged attack on a Muslim airline employee in the Delta Sky Lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday night. The man invoked President Donald Trump’s name during the barrage of insults hurled at the employee, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said on Thursday.
“The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilized society – especially in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation,” Brown said. “Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here and when they do, regrettably occur, those responsible will be brought to justice.”
Robin A. Rhodes, 57, of Worchester, Massachusetts has been charged with assault, unlawful imprisonment, menacing and harassment as hate crimes.
If convicted, Rhodes faces up to four years in prison.
Rhodes landed at JFK from Aruba and was catching a connecting flight to Massachusetts. According to the report, Delta employee Rabeeya Khan, who wears a hijab (head scarf), was in her office in the Delta Sky Lounge in Terminal 2 when Rhodes stopped at the door and started yelling: “Are you [expletive deleted] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?”
Rhodes allegedly punched the door, which hit the back of Khan’s chair. Khan asked Rhodes what she did to him to warrant the treatment, the DA said, and Rhodes responded: “You did nothing but I am going to kick your [expletive deleted] ass.”
Rhodes then allegedly kicked Khan in the leg. Khan tried to get away from Rhodes by moving into a corner of the office, but the DA alleges that Rhodes kicked the door, stepped into the office and blocked the exit.
When someone tried to intervene and calm Rhodes down, Khan was able to escape to the lounge’s front desk, the DA said, but Rhodes followed her and bowed down mocking a Muslim praying and shouted: “[Expletive deleted] Islam, [Expletive deleted] 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.”
During 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.”