June 4, 2020 (Lakewood, CO) – On April 29, 2020, Lakhwant Singh–an observant Sikh American husband and father–was working at his store in Lakewood, Colorado when he was brutally attacked by a customer. This week, Mr. Singh retained the Sikh Coalition to provide additional legal support, and we are requesting that authorities acknowledge the influence of bias in his attack by pushing for appropriate hate crime charges.

The attacker, Eric Breemen, entered the store Mr. Singh owns with his wife, and began harassing the couple. He damaged numerous items within the store, shouted profanity, and told the Singhs multiple times to “go back to your country.” The Singhs repeatedly asked Breemen to leave; when he finally did, Mr. Singh went outside to the store’s parking lot to take a photo of Breemen’s license plate in order to report the harassment. Breemen then used his vehicle to ram Mr. Singh, throwing him several feet across the parking lot. Afterwards, Breemen went on a crime spree resulting in two additional assaults. At the time of these attacks, he was out on bond for other criminal offenses.

Breemen was arrested on April 30, 2020, and the investigation is now ongoing. His preliminary hearing date is scheduled for July 24, 2020, when charges will be brought. Subsequent to his arrest, police officers said that Breemen referred to Mr. Singh as an “older Arab.” Mr. Singh was left with significant bodily injuries from the attack, and was only recently transferred to a rehabilitation facility after spending a month in the hospital.

“No one deserves to be targeted because of who they are, and I hope that sharing my story sheds further light on the hatred and bigotry faced by Sikhs and others across the country,” said Mr. Singh. “Colorado is my home, and I urge the authorities in charge of my attacker’s case to demonstrate, through action, that crimes rooted in hate will not be tolerated.”

This week, after speaking with Mr. Singh and learning more about his story, the Sikh Coalition’s legal team sent a letter to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and the Lakewood County Police Department pushing for an investigation into felony hate crime charges under Colorado’s bias-motivated crime statute. We are currently in communication with those offices as they continue their investigation.

“What happened to Mr. Singh deeply reverberates throughout the Colorado Sikh community, and no Sikh should have to wonder if they are the next target,” said Amrith Kaur, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “This was clearly a hate crime under the definition of the law, and we will continue to advocate for this charge because acknowledgment is the first step to fighting hate.”

The Sikh Coalition is providing free legal representation to Mr. Singh and acting as a liaison with law enforcement on his behalf, and we look forward to sharing updates in his attacker’s case. We also continue to provide free and confidential legal assistance to Sikhs who have been discriminated against or targeted for their religious beliefs or identity. If you or someone you know has experienced bias, bigotry, or backlash, please fill out our confidential legal intake form or call (212) 655-3095 to speak with someone in English or Punjabi.

As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.