One Year After Brutal Attack, Sikh Hate Crime Victim Files Civil Suit Against Attackers
Coalition Press Conference Draws Major Media Coverage
The Sikh Coalition hosted over a dozen media agencies at its New York City office for the press conference announcing Rajinder Singh Khalsa's civil suit.
Associate Press (AP), the Daily News, New York One, Newsday, the NY Post, WB 11, WNYC, Bravo, 1010 WINS, the Queens Tribune, Queens Ledger, and India Abroad were among those that covered the event.
[Read the AP article, carried by over 70 newspapers across the U.S.]
[Watch NY1's Press Conference Video]
July 12, 2005, New York, NY - One year after a brutal beating by five men yelling ethnic and religious epithets, Rajinder Singh Khalsa announced that he is filing a civil suit against his attackers. The lawsuit marks the first time a Sikh hate crime victim has filed a civil suit against his attackers.
Mr. Khalsa was unable to work for months after the beating. He also accumulated significant medical expenses as a result of damage to his face caused by the attack. The suit will attempt to recover his lost wages, medical expenses and punitive damages from both his attackers and the restaurant involved in intoxicating his attackers. Mr. Khalsa also hopes the suit will send a message that victims can and should stand up for their rights.
“People should know that Sikhs will not suffer in silence,” said Rajinder Singh Khalsa. “I hope for justice not only for myself, but all hate crime victims.”
The Sikh Coalition identified counsel for Mr. Khalsa through the Legal Access Network for South Asians. The Sikh Coalition will continue to provide community support for Mr. Khalsa’s quest for justice.
The lawsuit is being brought on Mr. Khalsa’s behalf by Retu R. Singla, Esq. an Associate at the law firm of Sacks and Sacks, LLP in New York City. “It is high time for immigrants to realize that they can redress social ills and gain compensation for their injuries through the legal system,” said Ms. Singla.
Mr. Khalsa was attacked on July 11, 2004 in Richmond Hill, Queens. His attackers told him to take this dirty curtain referring to his turban off his head and to get out of this country. Mr. Khalsa missed months of work due to the attack, suffered a fracture to his nose requiring surgery, suffered four fractures to his orbital bone, and suffered loss of vision in one eye. His five attackers are also being prosecuted by the Anti-Bias Bureau of the Queens District Attorney’s office.
“Bias crime victims should not have to bear the costs of hate.” said Amardeep Singh, Legal Director of the Sikh Coalition. “We hope Mr. Khalsa’s suit sends a clear message that hate crime victims will not suffer alone. Our community is prepared to use all lawful means to ensure justice is served
Original Announcement of the Hate Crime Against Rajinder Singh
(New York, New York) July 13, 2004 - An elderly Sikh man was viciously beaten by a group of men yelling religious epithets late Sunday afternoon in Queens. The Sikh Coalition is working with police and prosecutors to ensure that the attack is thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators are charged with hate crimes.
Fifty-four year-old Rajinder Singh Khalsa of Richmond Hill, Queens was kicked and punched by a group of five to six men who yelled "go back to your country." The encounter began when a man accompanied by two women and another man, asked Gurcharan Singh to "give me my curtain." When Gurcharan Singh asked what the man meant, he point to Gurcharan Singh's turban and said, "that is my curtain give it to me."
Gurcharan Singh then tried to explain that his turban is an article of the Sikh faith. The man kept yelling at Gurcharan Singh, trying to grab his turban and remove it from his head. Rajinder Singh then tried to explain to the men the significance of the turban.
Afraid that they would be further attacked, Gurcharan Singh called the police. When the men found out he called the police, one of them said, "If you called the cops, if the cops come to my home, I will come back here and kill you."
The men then went back into a nearby restaurant where they were celebrating a child's christening. After approximately five minutes, five men came out of the restaurant. They yelled at Gurcharan Singh, punching him twice while saying "go back to your country." When Rajinder Singh intervened, the men threw him to the ground. They began kicking and punching Rajinder Singh, again yelling "go back to your country."
Though the attackers escaped in two cars, Gurcharan Singh was able to retrieve the license plate numbers of both vehicles. He also retrieved a cell phone left by one of the assailants at the scene.
Rajinder Singh was left unconscious as a result of the beating. His nose was broken, one eye remains swollen shut and the other eye is still blood shot. Doctors at the hospital to which he was rushed stated that one of his corneas was scratched.
At present, police have arrested one man who turned himself in to police and confessed to assaulting Rajinder Singh. Prosecutors will charge the man with a bias crime. Police, however, decided to release five other men suspected of taking part in the beating, stating that they do not have enough evidence to arrest them.
Rajinder Singh at his home in Richmond Hill, Queens a day after the assault
"American culture is not discrimination against religion. And this is happening here."
--- Rajinder Singh
Rajinder Singh with his cousin Gurcharan Singh speaking to news media about the attack
"They told me 'Go back to your country.' I said, 'This is my country. I'm an American.' But they kept yelling at us."
---- Gurcharan Singh
Report Bias Crimes Now
New York One
1. Request thatRajinder Singh's City Councilmanwork to ensure that police detectives in the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill, Queens thoroughly investigate the attack
2. Request that Rajinder Singh's Congressman work to ensure that police detectives in the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill, Queens thoroughly investigate the attack
3. Participate in a community demonstration today requesting greater police action. The demonstration will be held at 1:00 p.m. July 13th, in front of the 102nd Police Precinct, located on 87-34 118th St, Richmond Hill, NY.
Coalition Takes Action
After learning of the attack, the Coalition formulated a plan to address the situation.
- The Sikh Coalition's Legal Director met with the victims for over four hours assisting them with media inquiries and explaining to them the status of the police investigation
- The Coalition spoke for over forty minutes with the District Attorney's Bias Crime Bureau requesting that the matter be treated as a bias crime
- The Coalition spoke with the lead detective twice today to receive updates on the investigation and request that the matter be treated as a bias crime.
- The Coalition met today with the Sikh community leaders of Richmond Hill, including the leaders of the Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Gurdwara, Sikh Cultural Society, United Sikhs, and American Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee.
- The Coalition has drafted a joint letter that it will submit to the police precinct along with the Makhan Shah Lubana Gurdwara, Sikh Cultural Society, and United Sikhs, requesting the precinct investigate the matter thoroughly
- The Sikh Coalition has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice, Gurcharan Singh's City Councilman and US Congressman, and the NYC Public Advocate to request that they work to ensure the matter is thoroughly investigated by police.
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