For Immediate Release
Primary Press Contact: Jagmeet Singh
Media & Communications Manager, the Sikh Coalition
Secondary Press Contact: Mark Reading-Smith
Media & Communications Director, the Sikh Coalition
May 18, 2017 (Richmond, CA) - Today, Chase Little and Colton Leblanc were found guilty of felony assault and hate crime charges and sentenced to a three-year term in California state prison for the brutal attack against Maan Singh Khalsa.
Mr. Khalsa, a Sikh American father and IT specialist, was viciously assaulted on September 25, 2016. While Mr. Khalsa was stopped at an intersection, the attackers got out of their truck and assaulted Mr. Khalsa through his open car window, hitting his face repeatedly, knocking off his Sikh turban and cutting his religiously-mandated unshorn hair with a knife.
"The recognition of the attack as a hate crime – as harm to my dignity and my entire community – is the first step in the process," said Mr. Khalsa, who recognized his attackers during his statement in court today. "I still consider you my brothers, and I hope that you will learn about me and my community, and one day consider me your brother, too."
Prior to the charges, the Sikh Coalition, community leaders, and a coalition of civil rights organizations, advocated vigorously on behalf of Mr. Khalsa, urging for a hate crime investigation and prosecution.
"The attack upon Mr. Khalsa based upon his perceived religion and identity is an attack upon us all," said Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney, Simon O'Connell. "As a community we must do better and it is my hope that today's sentence moves us further in that direction."
In the 15 years following 9/11, Sikhs remain hundreds of times more likely to be targeted in cases of profiling, bigotry and backlash than the average American. In March, a Sikh man was shot in Kent, WA after the attacker told him to "go back to your own country." In May, a Sikh American who has experienced hate violence firsthand testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the urgent need to address hate crimes in the United States.
"Acknowledging that this bias-based attack is a hate crime under state law both recognizes the deep dignitary harm to Mr. Khalsa, and ensures that we, as a society, confront the problems of Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia that make the Sikh community a target for violence," said Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney Pawanpreet Kaur. To read the Sikh Coalition's full statement from today's hearing, click here.
The Sikh Coalition has represented hate crime clients throughout the U.S. for the past 15 years and represented Maan Singh Khalsa in this case. For the impact statement from Mr. Khalsa click here, and for the statement from the Sikh Coalition, click here. For media inquires, please contact Jagmeet Singh or Mark Reading-Smith, who can provide more case info, send photos and facilitate interviews. Mr. Khalsa is not available for interviews, but legal counsel and/or a member of the local Sikh community are available.