Hoosier dies in road rage incident fueling push for hate crime legislation

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A rallying cry for hate crime legislation is centering around an Indy Hoosier who was lost in a deadly road rage incident that witnesses said was fueled by ethnic and religious hate.

Friends, family, and community leaders celebrated the life of Mustafa Ayoubi at a vigil Saturday night. Police said the 32-year-old was gunned down following a road rage incident with Dustin Passarelli. Witnesses told police Passarelli was yelling slurs and religious hate before the argument ended with Ayoubi being shot twice in the back.

“We want Mustafa’s story to serve as a warning to all the bigots, all the people filled with hate, that we will not be brushed to the side,” Mustafa’s brother Mohammad Khalid Ayoubi said at the vigil.

“Please do not confuse one man with a community,” Indianapolis deputy mayor Dr. David Hampton said.

His death comes while lawmakers debate hate crime legislation. The current bill passed the senate after legislators removed language that specified certain targets, and instead chose the more loose term of “includes bias.” Law experts argue the phrase does not hold up as well in court, or is too vague to give judges enough direction to work with. The Ayoubi family said that’s not good enough.

“We are asking Indiana, our home, to provide us the protection we deserve,” Mustafa’s sister Zahra Ayoubi said.

“I’m not trying to change their mind,” state Senator Greg Taylor said of his fellow senators who voted to change the language. “I’m just trying to change their vote.”

“He was attacked because of his religion, and we need our legislators to recognize and say that specifically,” said David Sklar of Indiana Forward.

The bill is now being debated in the house. Currently, Governor Eric Holcomb is in favor of a more comprehensive version of the bill.

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