Hate Finds Another Victim in New Jersey
SALDEF concerned about potential backlash in the coming weeks after historic Presidential election
Washington, DC – October 29, 2008: On Monday, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the oldest and largest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, documented a violent hate crime against a Sikh American man in Carteret, New Jersey.
Before dawn on Monday morning, Mr. Ajit Singh Chima walked out of his home in Carteret for his daily exercise. As he walked around his neighborhood, Mr. Chima was violently struck in the head by a Hispanic male who appeared to be in his twenties. As Mr. Chima fell to the ground, the assailant continued to violently punch and kick Mr. Chima in the head, neck and face before casually walking away from the scene. Nothing was stolen from Mr. Chima’s person.
Mr. Chima suffered four broken bones around his jaw and eyes. Other medical tests are ongoing to diagnose any possible effects on his vision or greater head injuries.
As of today, no arrests have been made. Upon learning of the incident, SALDEF alerted local police, the Mayor of Carteret, the FBI and other Justice Department officials and urged them to investigate the attack as a possible hate crime. Carteret Mayor Daniel J. Reiman acknowledged SALDEF’s concerns about post-9/11 hate crimes against Sikhs and reassured SALDEF that the attack would be properly investigated.
“In light of previous hate attacks against the Sikh American community, if theft isn’t an issue, and if the assailant isn’t known to the victim, we are left with a presumption that bias was a motive,” said Rajdeep Singh Jolly, Legal Director of SALDEF. “We want law enforcement officials to investigate this attack as a possible hate crime.”
The Potential for More
Over the past year, SALDEF and many other organizations have expressed concern about the use of ethnic and religious slurs in the context of the presidential campaign ad the perceived acceptance from both campaigns that to be or perceived to be Muslim or Arab is negative. SALDEF has also documented an increase in verbal assaults directed toward Sikhs in the past 30 days.
For example, last month, a community member came to SALDEF regarding an incident that occurred in Providence, RI which could have resulted in violence. While waiting on the sidewalk for a companion to park their car, a Sikh American man was approached by a white male who got out of his vehicle and accosted him. The white male approached the turbaned Sikh male and allegedly stated, ” I have a gun in my car and since you are a hajii no one will care if I kill you. You know why the police won’t do anything? Because I got blond hair and blue eyes.” As the assailant left, he screamed, “F*** Arabs and F*** Obama.”
“The bias-filled rhetoric has reached a new high this campaign season and our community must be prepared for any potential increase in hate and bias crimes,” said SALDEF National Director Rajbir Singh Datta. “Individuals who feel no shame about verbally assaulting members of the Sikh American community usually just need a spark to turn violent. We fear the spark may be the outcome of the presidential campaign, regardless of who wins.”
This should not prevent Sikh Americans from voting on November 4, 2008. SALDEF urges all Sikh Americans to exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice this election year.
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
1413 K St, NW, 5th floor | Washington, DC 20005
phone: 202-393-2700 | fax: 202-318-3344