For Immediate Release
October 14, 2016 (Richmond, CA) – This morning, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed hate crime charges against the attackers of Sikh American, Mr. Maan Singh Khalsa. Mr. Khalsa was brutally assaulted and his Sikh articles of faith were violently desecrated on September 25, 2016.
“The assailants violently targeted my Sikh faith. I am thankful to the Richmond Police Department and Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson for ensuring that my attackers were charged with hate crimes." said Mr. Khalsa. “The charges are the first step to addressing violence and bigotry, which plague communities across the United States.”
Mr. Khalsa, a father, IT specialist and caregiver for the elderly, was driving on the night of September 25th when a man in a truck threw a beer can at his car wholly unprovoked. At an intersection further up the road, the assailants got out of the truck and assaulted Mr. Khalsa through his open car window, knocking off his Sikh turban and hitting his face repeatedly. They shouted, “Cut his fu***g hair,” pulled his head out of the window, and cut a fistful of his religiously-mandated unshorn hair with a knife. Mr. Khalsa sustained injuries to his fingers, hands, eye and teeth.
“I trusted the District Attorney’s office to do the right thing and they came through,” said Richmond Mayor, Tom Butt. “We do not condone this in Richmond and we don’t condone it in America.”
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.
In the 15 years that have followed 9/11, Sikhs remain hundreds of times more likely to be targeted in cases of profiling, bigotry and backlash than the average American. Sikhism, the fifth largest religion in the world, has been an integral part of the American fabric for over 125 years.
“These hate crime charges ensure that the bias-based nature of the assault on Mr. Khalsa will be addressed during the prosecution,” said Sikh Coalition Legal Director, Harsimran Kaur. “The purpose of prosecuting bias-motivated assaults as hate crimes is not to impose harsher penalties. Instead, the purpose is to mitigate hatred in our society and ensure that we are all free to safely pursue the American dream regardless of our race, ethnicity, or religion.”
The Sikh Coalition has represented hate crime clients throughout the United States for the past 15 years and is representing Maan Singh Khalsa in this case. For all media inquires, please contact Jagmeet Singh or Mark Reading-Smith, who can provide more info, send photos and facilitate interviews. Mr. Khalsa is not available for interviews, but Jagmeet or Mark can facilitate interviews with legal counsel and/or a member of the local Sikh community.