JERSEY CITY - Members of the Sikh community held a vigil and protest against attacks they believe were hate crimes.
Sikhs are from South Asia, wear turbans and have beards, but they want others to know they are not Muslim. They are often prime targets for bias crimes.
The demonstration comes after two severe attacks in the past two months in Jersey City, where bias was an element.
In January, Sikhs were attacked near Liberty Avenue and Spruce Street. "It wasn't the attack on me that shook me," says Prabhujeet Singh, one of the victims. "It's the thinking that some elderly gentleman might be attacked."
Then, in February, a man named Inderjit Singh was allegedly beaten with a shovel in a dispute over snow that he says escalated into bias when he was called "Osama" and told to "go home." Parts of his beard were ripped from his face during the attack, he says.
Sikhs say they've lived in peace in Jersey City, and have seen their population grow, but they say residents still don't know enough about them. Thursday's rally was also an outreach.
"Whether it's against Sikhs or other religions, bias attacks or bullying are unacceptable," Inderjit Singh says.
Despite their efforts, Sikhs say they feel more hate crimes could come their way.