October 12, 2016
The Asian America Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) joins a coalition of advocacy, civil rights, community, and faith-based organizations in expressing deep concern regarding the unprovoked attack on Maan Singh Khalsa on September 25, 2016 in Richmond, California. AABA believes that Mr. Khalsa was targeted and assaulted because of his actual or perceived ethnicity/race, religion, and nationality. AABA condemns the assault and urges Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson to investigate and file hate crime charges in this matter.
Mr. Khalsa is of South Asian (Punjabi) ancestry and is visibly identifiable as Sikh because of his turban and unshorn hair and beard, which are religiously mandated articles of faith. On the evening of September 25, 2016, while driving home, Mr. Khalsa was victim of an unprovoked attack involving five to six white males in their late 20s and early 30s in a car near him. One of the men threw a beer can at Mr. Khalsa’s car, and the men began cursing at him. Later, three men exited the vehicle and attacked Mr. Khalsa through the open window, knocking off his turban, repeatedly hitting his face and cutting a fistful of his religiously-mandated hair. As a result, Mr. Khalsa sustained cuts on his fingers and hands that required stiches, a swollen black eye, and damage to his teeth that will require surgeries. Two suspects have been arrested, but the others have not been apprehended.
The attack on Mr. Khalsa was not an isolated incident. Since September 11, 2001, Sikhs have been the victims of hundreds of crimes involving verbal harassment, damage to property, beatings, and even murder. Sikhs are disproportionately targeted for discrimination. For example, in November 2015, Balwinder Jit Singh, a turbaned Sikh Los Angeles County bus driver was called a “terrorist” and “suicide bomber” and violently assaulted. In September 2015, Inderjit Singh Mukker was viciously beaten in his car in a suburb of Chicago after being called racial slurs such as “Bin Laden.” In July 2014, Sandeep Singh, a Sikh man in New York City, was run over and dragged 30 feet after being called “Bin Laden” and a “terrorist.” Those crimes were charged as hate crimes.
As one of the largest Asian American Pacific Islander bar associations in the United States and one of the largest minority bar associations in California, we believe it is our duty to stand up against bias-motivated violence. “AABA urges Contra Costa County District Attorney Peterson to file hate crime charges in this matter. Failure to do so will continue to compromise our nation’s freedoms and values and discourage marginalized communities from reporting acts of violence,” AABA President Hung Chang said.
AABA further calls upon its members to speak out against hate crimes and bias-motivated harassment against Sikhs. As a community, we must send a strong message that bias and hate will not be tolerated.
For more information, contact AABA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AABA has a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to fostering the exchange of ideas and information among its members and the public. AABA is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country, and counts lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders among its members, representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area.