NEW YORK (AP) — A businessman attacked a Muslim airline employee at Kennedy Airport, kicking her, shouting obscenities at her and saying that President Donald Trump “will get rid of all of you,” authorities said.
Robin Rhodes, of Worcester, Massachusetts, had arrived from Aruba and was awaiting a connecting flight to Massachusetts on Wednesday night when he approached Delta employee Rabeeya Khan, who wears a hijab, at the Sky Club in Terminal 2 while she was sitting in the utility office, authorities said.
Khan told police that Rhodes came to the door and went on a profanity-laced tirade, asking her if she was praying, District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. Rhodes then punched the door, which hit the back of Khan’s chair, he said. The 60-yeaer-old Khan asked Rhodes what she had done to him and the 57-year-old Rhodes said she’d done nothing, authorities said. He then cursed at her and kicked her in the leg, Khan told police.
When another person tried to calm him down, Rhodes moved away from the door and Khan ran out of the office to the front desk at the club, authorities said. Rhodes followed her, got down on his knees and began to bow down to imitate Muslim prayers and shouted obscenities, investigators said.
Brown said Kahn recalled Rhodes saying: “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kinds of people. You see what happens.”
At the time of his arrest, Rhodes told officers, “I guess I am going to jail for disorderly conduct,” Brown said.
Rhodes appeared in court Thursday night on charges of assault and menacing as hate crimes and is being held on $30,000 bail. He was represented by a public defender for the court hearing, but will have to get his own attorney for subsequent proceedings. His next court date is Feb. 8.
His mother, Dorothy Rhodes, said the behavior alleged by authorities is uncharacteristic of her son.
“It’s not like him at all,” she said. “He’s not a violent person. He’s very kind.”
Robin Rhodes is the president of Nitrofreeze Cryogenic Solutions, a metals company based in Worcester.
Dorothy Rhodes said her son “goes out of his way to hire people of different races and ethnicities.”
Brown said Rhode displayed bigotry and hatred that “have no place in a civilized society — especially in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation.”
Delta didn’t return a call seeking comment.