For Immediate Release

Primary Press Contact: Rajanpreet Kaur
Media & Communications Manager, the Sikh Coalition, (732) 823-9266

Secondary Press Contact: Harkeet Singh
Media & Communications Manager, the Sikh Coalition, (925) 315-7872

Defendant Sentenced in Brutal OR Hate Crime Against Sikh Store Owner

May 24, 2019 (Salem, OR) – This morning, Andrew Ramsey was sentenced to 36 months of supervised probation, after pleading guilty to intimidation in the second degree and assault in the fourth degree in the January 14, 2019 assault of Harwinder Singh Dodd.

In addition, the sentencing judge, Judge Partridge ruled Mr. Ramsey is required to seek drug and alcohol treatment along with mental health treatment. Judge Partridge also included restorative justice components as part of Mr. Ramsey's probation, including a requirement that he obtain an awareness of Sikhism and report what he’s learned to the court, and spoke highly of Mr. Dodd's character as a hard-working and valuable member of the Salem community.

According to initial reports, Mr. Ramsey targeted Mr. Dodd because of his perception of Mr. Dodd’s religion. Mr. Dodd, a Sikh American husband and father who maintains Sikh articles of faith including unshorn hair and a turban, was working at his convenience store when Mr. Ramsey tried to purchase cigarettes without an ID, as required by law. Mr. Dodd followed the law and refused to service Mr. Ramsey, who grew angry. Mr. Dodd then walked him outside, asking him to leave the premises. It was then that Mr. Ramsey got violent and brutally attacked Mr. Dodd and his articles of faith. He ran up to Mr. Dodd, grabbed and pulled his beard, punched him, threw him to the ground and kicked him. He also spat on Mr. Dodd and ripped his turban off his head.

Under Oregon’s hate crime laws, the charge of intimidation in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor. While Mr. Dodd was unable to be in court today, he drafted a victim impact statement that allowed him to share his own story and teach others about the Sikh faith, despite the brutality of this bias-based incident.

“I wanted the entire courtroom, including my attacker, to understand that my Sikh faith is a defining part of who I am,” said Mr. Dodd, referencing his written statement that was read aloud in court. “Every person should be able to live their life without fear of being targeted because of who they are, or how they practice their faith.”

According to the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization, Sikhs in America remain hundreds of times more likely to experience bigotry, bias or backlash than the average American. The organization, which has provided Mr. Dodd with free legal counsel since January, averages approximately one hate-related legal case a month across the United States.

“From the beginning, law enforcement did not rule out bias motives and began investigating this case as a hate crime,” said Sikh Coalition Legal Director Amrith Kaur. “This conviction is a much-needed step for Oregon in its broader efforts to make all our communities safe from hate."

Just last year, the FBI’s annual hate crime report showed hate crimes increased by more than 40% in Oregon in one year. In May 2018, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum established a special task force designed to explore ways to improve measures to combat and prevent hate, and recently, Senate Bill 577 was introduced to strengthen the state’s laws against hate crimes. This proposed bill renames crime of intimidation as bias crime, and it is currently sitting with the Oregon Senate to be raised in a full committee hearing before the legislative session ends this year.

"The court sent a clear message that what Mr. Ramsey did to me will not be accepted," said Mr. Dodd. "Hate violence impacts the entire community, and this decision reinforces why Oregon remains a welcoming place for diverse communities and faiths."

The Sikh Coalition has represented hate crime clients throughout the United States for the past 18 years and represented Harwinder Singh Dodd in this case. For the impact statement from Mr. Dodd click here, and for the statement from the Sikh Coalition, click here. For media inquiries, please contact Rajanpreet Kaur or Harkeet Singh, who can provide more case info and facilitate interviews with Sikh Coalition lawyers.