Gagandeep Bindra thought he was safe walking down Franklin Street until he was assaulted last weekend after three teenage boys called him al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Bindra, a Sikh UNC senior economics major from Punjab, India, said he is more disappointed with the way Chapel Hill police handled the incident than he is with the verbal attack.
According to police reports, each of the three boys was arrested on charges of simple assault but was not charged with ethnic intimidation. N.C. law makes it a misdemeanor to assault another person, to damage property or to make threats because of a person's race, color, religion or national origin.
But, according to reports, police did categorize last week's incident as a hate crime. Chapel Hill police Chief Gregg Jarvies said a charge of ethnic intimidation was not filed because police did not think it was clear that the assault occurred as a result of verbal attack.
"We have to prove the assault was a direct result of the slur," Jarvies said. "We can't act on how someone feels. We have to look at what the statute requires."
Jarvies said the incident was still considered a hate crime because of the possibility that hate was involved in the assault.
But Bindra claims he was intimidated. "If it's not intimidation, what is it?" he said. "It's not like these guys are being friendly to me..."