October 14, 2016 (Richmond, CA) – Today, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed hate crime charges against the attackers of Sikh American 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, Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson and the Sikh Coalition 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.
Prior to the successful filing of hate crime charges, the Sikh Coalition worked to provide direct legal and communications support to Mr. Khalsa; we also worked with community leaders and a coalition of civil rights organizations to vigorously advocate to ensure a hate crime investigation and prosecution.
A donation page that has been set up by those close to Mr. Khalsa to assist in covering his expenses. Please click here to donate.
“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 next step in this case is working to ensure convictions or pleas that include the hate crime charges. We will provide community updates as this case progresses.
As always, we continue to urge all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.