Sikh CoalitionPosted Dec 18, 2009 •Permalink • Printer-Friendly Version
Violent Assault on West Texas Sikh, Not a Hate Crime?
A Sikh graduate student was thrown into a swimming pool and brutally assaulted in West Texas. The Coalition is taking action to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Swimming For His Life
The young man (identity withheld for his protection) held a part-time job delivering pizzas to ease the burden of his college expenses. He brought pizzas into a home on a delivery and four men took the pizza. Without paying, they began eating, while at the same time hurling racial epithets at the Sikh man and threatening him.
“I’m going to **** you up in Iraq, I’m going to **** you up in Afghanistan, I’m going to **** you up over here.”
The men then grabbed the Sikh student and threw him into a swimming pool. The four attackers surrounded the pool, kicking him in the head and body. Every time he tried to escape, they would stomp or hit at him. For 20 minutes, he swam for his life trying to escape. He eventually seized an opportunity to flee and barely made it to his car with two men in pursuit.
The Sikh man went to the hospital to address his injuries the next day. He is now doing better physically, but is still emotionally scarred because his attackers have been roaming free.
Local Police Do Little
Though the local police were called shortly after the attack, they failed to respond adequately. The police classified the incident as a misdemeanor, which means that the attackers may not have to serve any jail time.
The attackers’ behavior put this young man’s life at risk. To our knowledge local charges have still not been filed. The Sikh Coalition and the victim are appalled at this lack of action by local police.
The local police also did not file the incident as a hate crime. It is clear from the attackers’ references to ‘bin Laden’ and ‘Go back to Afghanistan’ and the fact that they kicked off his turban that this assault targeted not only him as an individual, but his Sikh identity.
Coalition Takes Action
Harsimran Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s Legal Director, contacted the local police department demanding the men be charged with hate crimes. Although the local police department refused to prosecute the perpetrators, the Sikh Coalition did not give up. We immediately contacted the Department of Justice (DOJ). We are pleased that the DOJ is currently investigating the matter as a possible federal hate crime.
“I was terrified that I would die that night,” the victim said. “No one should have to endure something like this just because of their religion, ethnicity or appearance. I am grateful that the Sikh Coalition intervened or else I surely would have not gotten any serious response from any of the law enforcement agencies.”
Because criminal charges have not been brought against this young Sikh’s attackers, they remain free to live in the town where he was attacked. The student has received numerous death threats over the past few months. He recently fled the town and has moved into a new home. The young man intends to continue his education at another university.
The Sikh Coalition will keep the community informed as the criminal matter moves forward. Due to the sensitive nature of the case we have been asked not to release personal information at this time.
The Coalition continues to encourage all Sikhs to fearlessly practice their faith and stand up for their rights.
The Sikh Coalition http://www.sikhcoalition.org/ is a community-based organization that works towards the realization of civil and human rights for all people. The Coalition serves as a resource on Sikhs and Sikh concerns for governments, organizations and individuals.