January 30, 2023 (Sutter, CA) – Today, attorneys for Mr. Rouble Claire and the Sikh Coalition are pleased to share that a civil case against the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) and Sutter County has been favorably resolved.

As a reminder, on May 11, 2021, Mr. Claire, a Sikh man of South Asian descent, was accosted by a woman at South Butte Market, a local grocery store. The woman shouted at Mr. Claire–including by calling him a “F*cking Hindu”–threatened to “ram” him with her car, and then got in her car and sped towards him, only swerving away at the last moment. Then, later that day, another individual connected to the woman in the first incident wrote the word “SAND N*GGER” in chalk on the sidewalk outside Mr. Claire’s house and on his driveway, and called him “n*gger” when he went outside. 

The Sutter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) failed to properly investigate either incident that day, and officers interfered with evidence of the crimes by attempting to wash away the hateful slurs on Mr. Claire’s driveway before taking photographs. The SCSO then refused to reopen the investigation for many months, until the Sikh Coalition got involved. When the SCSO ultimately did investigate, they recommended charges against the woman involved in the grocery store incident; however, the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office (SCDAO) then refused to bring those charges.  

Mr. Claire, represented by Gina Szeto-Wong, Principal Attorney of Szeto-Wong Law, and Sean Tamura-Sato, Managing Partner of Minami Tamaki LLP, brought a civil suit against the SCSO officers whose misconduct caused the initial delays in investigating his case, Sutter County itself, and the woman who accosted him at the market. The court issued judgment against SCSO and Sutter County in response to Mr. Claire’s argument that they violated his rights; moreover, Mr. Claire’s legal team also discovered that Sutter County was not following state law with regards to the SCSO’s hate crime policy.

“This settlement is a step forward for my own peace of mind–but more importantly, it will hopefully help to ensure that nothing like my experience ever happens to anyone in Sutter County again,” said Mr. Claire. “It is the responsibility of our law enforcement officials to take all crimes and threats seriously, and accountability is essential when they do not live up to that standard.”

While the Sikh Coalition did not represent Mr. Claire in his civil suit, we worked tirelessly over several months to push the SCSO to reopen the investigation into Mr. Claire’s case, and engaged former Sutter County District Attorney Amanda Hopper regarding her office’s decision not to pursue charges in this case. During this effort, we marshaled hundreds of community members to send messages of support for Mr. Claire to the SCDAO, and led 12 additional organizations to send a letter to former DA Hopper urging her to take action. In the weeks ahead, we plan to engage recently elected DA Jennifer Dupre about bringing all appropriate charges in this case.

“Mr. Claire experienced inaction tantamount to injustice that no one else should suffer,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “The Sikh Coalition is grateful for Mr. Claire’s courage and fortitude in fighting against injustice, and we look forward to continuing to push for broader accountability in his case to ensure that no Sikh nor anyone else experiences hate in Sutter County.”

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