Press Release: Hate Crime Charges Filed in Religiously-Motivated Attack on Sikh American
Joint Statement of API Bar Associations.
October 25, 2016 – On Friday, October 14, 2016, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed hate crime charges against the assailants of Maan Singh Khalsa, a Sikh American resident of Richmond, California. The undersigned Asian Pacific Islander bar associations were part of a coalition of organizations that condemned the brutal attack on Mr. Khalsa and urged the District Attorney’s Office to file hate crime charges.
Mr. Khalsa, who is of South Asian (Punjabi) ancestry was the victim of an unprovoked attack on the evening of September 25 while stopped at a red light on his way home. His assailants targeted his articles of faith, knocking off his turban, hitting his face repeatedly, and deliberately cutting his unshorn hair with a knife. As a result of the attack, Mr. Khalsa sustained cuts on his fingers and hands that required stitches, a swollen black eye, and damage to his teeth that will require surgeries.
“The prosecution of hate crime charges, where appropriate, ensures that we send a strong message that there is no place for bias and hatred in our country,” said Hung Chang, President of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area. “We thank the District Attorney’s Office for its work on this matter, and we look forward to seeing the case prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
As bar associations comprised primarily of Asian Pacific Islander legal professionals, we believe it is our duty to stand up against bias-motivated violence. Targeting a Sikh’s turban and hair is analogous to targeting a Jewish or Muslim person because of his or her religious attire. We must teach our children to respect the differences in all people, and set an example for the next generation that such acts are not to be tolerated in our diverse country.
“The District Attorney’s decision to charge hate crimes in this case is an important step in helping ensure that the civil rights of marginalized communities are protected,” said Vidhya Prabhakaran, Immediate Past President of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.
Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Silicon Valley
Filipino Bar Association of Northern California
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
South Asian Bar Association of North America
South Asian Bar Association of Northern California