NEW YORK >> 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, while she was sitting in her office, the Queens district attorney 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, investigators said. Khan asked Rhodes what she had done to him and Rhodes replied, “You did nothing,” Brown said. He then cursed at her and kicked her in the leg, Khan told police, according to Brown.
When another person tried to calm him down, Brown said Rhodes moved away from the door and Khan ran out of the office. 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 was charged with assault, unlawful imprisonment, menacing and harassment as hate crimes. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney who can comment on the charges.
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.”