Fla. Man Allegedly Tore off Postal Worker's Hijab and Punched Her — He Is Now Charged with a Hate Crime

Kenneth Jerome Pinkney punched the woman in her face, causing her mouth to bleed, and threatened to call the police on her

<p>Broward County Sheriff

Broward County Sheriff's Office

Kenneth Jerome Pinkney

A Florida man is facing hate crime charges for allegedly ripping off a postal worker’s hijab, physically assaulting her and making a hand motion to indicate shooting at her, according to multiple reports.

Jail records show Kenneth Jerome Pinkney was arrested on Oct. 24, the day of the alleged incident. Pinkney, 47, was on his bike as he passed by the United States Postal Service employee and “made his hand into the shape of a firearm, and made a shooting gesture,” then called her insulting names and told her to "go back to her country," according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Local 10 and CNN.

He is facing one count of battery and two counts of “felony evidence prejudice,” court records show.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, initially tried to laugh it off when Pinkney made the shooting motion, according to Local 10, CNN and NBC Miami. He then got close to her and punched and slapped her in the face, which caused her to bleed from her mouth. 

She attempted to get back into the truck but Pinkney pulled her leg, and she freed herself by ripping his shirt, the outlets reported. When she threatened to call the police, he said he would as well.

A judge has ordered Pinkney to undergo a mental health evaluation, according to court documents.

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The alleged attack comes at a time of increasing hate crimes during the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East, according to information from the Department of Homeland Security, which cites rising numbers of hate crimes against Arabs, Muslims and Jews, ABC News reports.

In response to the charges, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida chapter said they “welcome” the hate crime charges.

“We will make sure to follow up on this and any other case to ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent to deter others from engaging in this criminal anti-social behavior targeting anyone, regardless of their race or religion,” the organization said in a statement. 

It wasn’t immediately clear if Pinkney has entered a plea. The defense attorney listed in court documents did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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