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The Sikh Coalition News
September 20, 2021
  • Khalsa Gurmat Center in Washington State Vandalized and Robbed

    September 20, 2021 (Federal Way, WA) -- This weekend, community leaders at Khalsa Gurmat Center--a Sikh house of worship, school, and community center located in Federal Way, Washington--discovered that the Center had been vandalized and burglarized. Video surveillance shows a suspect breaking in, ransacking the divaan hall, breaking windows and electronic control panels, and stealing equipment on their way out.

    Upon finding the damage, community leaders immediately called the Federal Way Police Department to begin a thorough forensic investigation. According to community members who spoke with officers at the time, authorities are investigating all possible motives--including the possibility that bias could have been a factor in this incident.

    “We are deeply saddened that someone would harm our place of worship and a place of learning for our children,” said Dr. Jasmit Singh, a Washington Sikh community leader. “The Sikh community has been an integral part of Washington’s culture and economy for generations, and our gurdwaras are where we come together as a community. We thank local law enforcement for their prompt attention to this disturbing case--including understanding why it is so important to explore the possibility that bias might be involved.”

    Khalsa Gurmat Center has retained the Sikh Coalition to provide free legal assistance and liaise with all relevant law enforcement agencies and elected officials as the investigation moves forward. Accordingly, we are in touch with the FBI and have reached out to the Federal Way Police Department to confirm that all potential factors, including bias, are being considered in this case. Our team has also reached out to elected officials in Washington to ensure that they are aware of the investigation, and connected sangat members with several media outlets, including the local CBS, FOX, and ABC TV stations, as well as the Seattle Times and Associated Press, in an effort to share information that could identify a suspect.

    “Based on video surveillance, it is clear that the suspect willfully and maliciously vandalized this place of importance to the local Sikh community,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “We are glad to hear that the Federal Way Police Department is exploring this case from every angle, and we will continue communicating with Khalsa Gurmat Center leaders, local and federal law enforcement, and elected officials in order to ensure this investigation keeps moving forward.”

    Well wishes from Sikh community members and people of all faiths across the country have poured in on social media since the initial posts about the vandalism and robbery. To learn more about Khalsa Gurmat Center and how you can support the sangat, visit their website. Additionally, the Sikh Coalition urges all gurdwaras to ensure that video surveillance is on and in place to both deter these kinds of incidents and assist law enforcement in their investigation if something does happen; learn more about this and other gurdwara security measures in our Gurdwara Security Toolkit.

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

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