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Baltimore police civilian employee attacked Wednesday, religious advocates ask police not to rule out hate crime

The Council on American–Islamic Relations brought together community leaders for a press conference on the attack of a Muslim employee of the police department.

Video footage released by federal law enforcement late Thursday night showed a 59-year-old civilian employee of the city’s police department having his religious headwear knocked off before three people brutally assaulted him Wednesday morning.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations gathered community advocates from the State’s Attorney’s Office, City Wide Youth Development Group and religious leaders Friday morning to stand in solidarity with the victim, who is Muslim, and encourage police to not rule out a hate crime.

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Zainab Chaudry, the director of CAIR’s Maryland chapter, also encouraged the public to come forward with any information about the attack.

“We want to strongly condemn the act of violence that has happened," Chaudry said. “You are better than this. Our city is better than this.”

The Baltimore bureau of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released video of the incident on its Twitter feed shortly before midnight Thursday. It was retweeted by the Baltimore Police.

Police, the ATF and the FBI are searching for two men and a woman who police say assaulted the employee while he was walking in the first block of Albermarle St. around 6 a.m. Wednesday. Police said the suspects also stole his car keys.

In the video, two people approach the victim on scooters and a third person arrives on foot and knocks him down, then kicks him in the head. The victim briefly stumbles to his feet, then is knocked down again and stomped on repeatedly. One of the assailants then searches the victim’s pockets.

Authorities are offering rewards adding up to $32,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the three people. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said it will donate an additional $1,000 to the cause. During Friday’s press conference, Rabbi Etan Mintz said the B’Nai Israel Downtown Synagogue also will donate $1,000 to show solidarity.

The FBI and ATF are each offering separate $5,000 rewards for information on each of the three suspects in the case. Metro Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $2,000.

Michael Sullivan, Baltimore’s Deputy Police Commissioner of Operations, said the man who was attacked has been released from the hospital and is at home recovering.

“He’s doing well physically,” Sullivan said. “But trauma after events like this live on for a very long time.”

Though police have not identified the suspects, the deputy commissioner also said he is “confident” that closure will come soon in the case.

Nicole Harris-Crest, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney chief of external affairs, said the office plans to fully prosecute the three individuals.

“No person in Baltimore City should be afraid to walk down the street,” she said.

Police have not revealed a motive for the crime, but religious advocates said they believe it could have been a hate crime.

“It could have been a robbery, but we shouldn’t rule out a hate crime,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said. “This was a respected person in our community, and he had religious attire on and was knocked to the ground and then brutally attacked.”

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The advocates, as well as police, emphasized the importance the community plays in solving the crimes. They encouraged people to condemn all crimes in the city and for those with information to come forward.

“This is just one of a string of incidents in the city,” Chaudry said. “Enough is enough and we will not stay silent.”

Anyone with information can call 410-366-6341 or leave tips anonymously at 1-866-7Lockup.

This is the second time in less than a week that a department employee has been victimized by a crime.

Last Friday night, Daniel Murphy, another Baltimore Police deputy commissioner, was robbed at gunpoint while out with his wife in the 2200 block of East Pratt St. near Patterson Park in East Baltimore. Police announced the arrest of two teenagers in the robbery Friday afternoon.

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