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Updated 2 hours ago
Pittsburgh's Somali Bantu community fears the assault of a Somali man early Tuesday in the city's Beltzhoover neighborhood is a hate crime, but police said there is no evidence of a motive other than robbery.
The man, who police and community members did not identify, was found about 5 a.m. Tuesday face-down and unresponsive on Climax Street, according to Pittsburgh police Assistant Chief Lavonnie Bickerstaff. A driver for Z-Trip, he'd been picking up a fare in the area, she said.
Police found his vehicle the next day a few blocks away.
Bickerstaff stressed that investigators have no reason to suspect the assault was a hate crime.
The man was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where he remains in critical condition, Bickerstaff said. She said police have thus far been unable to interview him because of his condition.
Last year, Pittsburgh police reported there were six robberies and 26 assaults in Beltzhoover, which has a population of 1,925.
This latest assault, however, shook the Somali Bantu community.
“When around the country Muslims have been assaulted almost every day, how can we not think that is not a hatred crime,” Omar, a member of the Somali Bantu, said during a Thursday morning press conference on the incident. He declined to use his last time.
“We need to know what happened and who did this,” he said.
Wasiullah Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, said that harassment and violence against the Somali Bantu community – and larger Muslim community – has been ongoing, and regardless of the nature of this particular incident, he hopes there will now be an ongoing dialogue.
“Although we do not know the details of the case, the trend is clear,” he said.
The Violent Crime Unit is continuing to investigate.
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