Lincoln police investigating attack on Muslim woman as hate crime; reward offered

Authorities are investigating an attack against a Muslim woman in Lincoln as a hate crime.

A 17-year-old woman told police she was on a neighborhood street near West A and Southwest 16th Streets before 8:25 p.m. Wednesday when two men approached her and made “threatening and derogatory statements,” Lincoln police said.

The woman said she was knocked to the ground and kicked. She suffered cuts to her forearms and face and bruising on her lower leg.

Officials declined to release more details on the nature of the threats because it would “compromise the integrity of the investigation and cause the destruction of valuable evidence,” they said in a press release.

Police have been unable to identify the men and are asking for the public’s help. One man was riding a bicycle and the other was on a skateboard, and they last were seen near Southwest 17th and West Rose Streets. Both men are white.

Anyone with information should call 402-441-6000 or, for anonymity, call Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600.

“We are analyzing video, canvassing the area and will be examining digital evidence,” Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister said. “Our community and our agency will not tolerate hate crimes.”

The incident has caught the attention of a national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, which is offering a reward for information. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is offering a $1,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of the two assailants.

Ibrahim Hooper, the group’s national communications director, said the organization has reported more than 500 examples of anti-Muslim bias or harassment this year nationwide.

“We hope the offer of a reward will lead to the arrest and conviction of the alleged perpetrators,” he said. “Incidents in which a bias motive is suspected must be treated with the seriousness they deserve, and the alleged perpetrators must be brought to justice.”