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Friday, April 11, 2008

Sikh Graduate Student Falls Victim to Texas Hate Attack

SALDEF works with local authorities to ensure attack is classified as hate crime

A Sikh graduate student at Texas A & M University was viciously attacked by an unknown individual in Bryan, TX and had his turban forcibly knocked off of his head. The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) filed formal complaints with the Bryan Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has learned that the attack has been classified as a hate crime.

On February 28, 2008, Mr. Singh (name withheld for privacy) was walking back to his vehicle at a local Wal-Mart parking lot when he was approached by an unknown male who called Mr. Singh a ‘terrorist’ and then made other disparaging and racist remarks. Mr. Singh responded by telling the suspect that he did not want any trouble at which time the individual approached Mr. Singh and punched him in the face and head, knocking both Mr. Singh and his daastar (turban) to the ground. Mr. Singh did not sustain any major injuries.

The immediate reaction of some of the police officers involved in the case was less than ideal. Mr. Singh was initially discouraged from making a police report on the night of the incident. Within two weeks of the incident occurring, the Bryan Police Department allegedly closed the case, despite overwhelming evidence involving witness identification of a vehicle at the scene of the crime and a partial license plate which later matched the vehicle description.

After Mr. Singh reported the incident, SALDEF immediately contacted Bryan Police Department Chief Ty Morrow inquiring about the status of police investigation. SALDEF asked for a vigorous investigation and for crime to be prosecuted and classified as a hate crime. On March 31, 2008 the Bryan Police Department informed SALDEF that the incident had been re-classified as a class ‘C’ assault with hate crime enhancement. The necessary paperwork has been filed and the case is currently in active investigation. [SALDEF Press Release]

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