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USA Discrimination Against Sikh Family Forces Texas' Harris County To Hire Expert

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
July 27, 2011

Discrimination against Sikh family
forces Texas' Harris county to hire expert

Jul 27, 2011, 05.01PM IST

The Commissioners Court of Harris County, Texas, voted unanimously (July 12) to authorize a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to hire an expert to monitor the department's internal affairs division to end a federal inquiry into sheriff deputies' alleged religious and racial discrimination.

The U.S. Justice Department probe was triggered by the treatment of a Sikh family who were handcuffed and harassed after they reported a burglary at their home in Houston, Texas, Nov. 2, 2008 (I-W, Dec. 19, 2008).

The investigation also uncovered e-mails from sheriff's commanders disparaging religious, racial and ethnic groups, AP reported.

Both incidents happened before current Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia took office.

The agreement, subject to recruiting a monitor and having the contract approved by the Commissioners Court, requires the department to develop diversity training and calls for a report after an eight-month review.

Assistant County Attorney John Odam said on July 18 that the agreement is not an admission of any wrongdoing.

In the 2008 incident, Kawaljeet Kaur and her brother, Ramandeep Singh, returned to their Houston home and discovered a broken window in a bathroom, belongings on the floor of the master bedroom and jewelry and money missing.

They called police, but when a deputy arrived, he seemed more bothered about Singh and Kaur than concerned by the break-in.

Singh wears a beard and turban and Kaur wore on her hip a Kirpan, a small ceremonial knife mandated by the Sikh faith.

The incident escalated when the deputy saw the Kirpan and when other deputies arrived, they detained and handcuffed Kaur, Singh and other family members, including Kaur's 60-year-old mother.

Kaur had a taser pointed at her forehead and was pushed to the ground with a deputy applying a knee on her back.

One deputy reportedly asked them if they'd "heard about the bombings in Bombay." Another allegedly said he had been to Kuwait and "knew about Muslims."

A department supervisor arrived and ordered deputies to release the family from custody and admitted they overreacted.(Dec. 19, 2008).

The incident drew a strong protest from the Sikh Coalition, which asked that deputies be disciplined and racial sensitivity training be implemented.

Odam said the investigation would not be closed until the monitor is hired and submits the report.

Source: India-West
RICHARD SPRINGER India-West Staff Reporter




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