A San Diego man was charged with hate crimes this week after an unprovoked attack on three Muslim women in which he slapped them and pulled on one of their hijabs, police said.
Kyle Allen, 50, was booked on three counts of battery, three counts of violating the state hate crime law and one count of possessing a firearm silencer, which police found in his apartment when he was arrested, San Diego police Sgt. Matthew Botkin told HuffPost. Allen, free on bond, is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on Oct. 21.
The women, who are between the ages of 20 and 30 and live in the San Diego region, weren’t seriously hurt in the attack on Sunday. All three were wearing hijabs as they walked in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood when Allen, without provocation, intentionally barged into one of them, police said.
The situation quickly escalated, with Allen allegedly telling the women to “go back to their own country,” and slapping and beating them, police said.
Allen fled after the attack, but a witness followed him to his residence and notified police, authorities said. HuffPost was unable to reach Allen for comment.
San Diego has seen an uptick in hate crimes in recent years that has correlated with state and national trends of anti-Muslim attacks. Earlier this year, a mosque in California was set ablaze in tribute to the New Zealand terrorist attack that killed over 50 Muslims. In August, a woman was arrested on charges she spray-painted anti-Muslim graffiti on the walls of a Muslim-owned business in California.
“With the emboldening of white supremacists across the country, we’ve seen a rise in hate crimes in San Diego like other parts in the country,” Dustin Craun, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. His group is in touch with the three Muslim-American women victimized in Sunday’s attack.
Anti-Muslim hate crimes have skyrocketed since the election of Donald Trump, according to civil rights groups, and have surpassed crime levels of 2001, when Islamaphobia peaked after the 9/11 attacks.