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SALDEF SALDEF Applauds Hate Crime Conviction In Attack Of Sikh American Cab Driver

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SALDEF Applauds Hate Crime Conviction in Attack of Sikh American Cab Driver

March 8, 2011 (Sacramento, CA): Yesterday, two assailants involved in the brutal attack of Harbhajan Singh in Sacramento, CA last November, admitted to committing a hate crime against the 56-year-old Sikh American cab driver. Pedro Ramirez, will be sentenced with up to 13 years in jail, and Johnny Morales, who could serve up to one year in jail, entered into a plea agreement on Monday, which allowed them to avoid a jury trial which was to start yesterday. SALDEF applauds the hate crime conviction, and congratulates the Yolo County District Attorney’s office for prosecution of this case to the full extent of the law.
READ MORE: No Contest Plea in Attack of Sikh Cabbie
Regrettably, this community victory was overshadowed by the tragic shooting of two elderly Sikh American men in Elk Grove, CA, a suburb of Sacramento, just this past weekend. Surinder Singh (67) and his friend Gurmej Atwal (78) were shot during their daily afternoon walk; both men wore dastaars (Sikh turbans) and had beards in accordance with their Sikh faith. The local Sikh American community has been shocked by this fatal shooting, especially due to its occurring so soon after the attack on Harbhajan Singh.

On November 28, 2010, Mr. Singh was severely beaten and robbed by two passengers in his cab, as they yelled racial and ethnic slurs and called him Osama bin Laden. Mr. Singh, who wears a dastaar (Sikh turban) and beard in accordance with his faith, managed to escape but sustained serious injuries, including multiple lacerations, a fracture in his face and another one on his spine. SALDEF immediately issued a letter to local authorities, the Department of Justice, the US Attorney and the FBI requesting that they initiate a hate crimes investigation into the attack.

According to Mr. Singh’s attorney Amar Shergill, Mr. Singh is still healing from the physical and mental injuries he sustained during the attack, but looks forward to returning to work. “Mr. Singh is pleased that his assailants have admitted their crimes and will serve an appropriate sentence,” said Mr. Shergill. “In light of the recent shooting of two elderly Sikh men in Elk Grove, the Sikh community takes some solace in the fact that law enforcement authorities aggressively prosecuted these crimes and that the greater community has been so supportive.”

READ MORE: Attack on two Sikh men seen as possible hate crime

“Attacks on innocent individuals are always inexcusable, but crimes motivated by racial, ethnic or religious bias are especially heinous and have no place in our society,” said SALDEF Associate Executive Director Jasjit Singh. “We are pleased with the outcome of this case and that it was properly pursued as a hate crime and applaud the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office for this prosecution and the West Sacramento Police Department for their exemplary work in apprehending the assailants.”
SALDEF urges all Sikh Americans to immediately report any incidents of harassment, bullying or assault to SALDEF and your local authorities. If you or someone you know has been a victim of any racially motivated crime, please contact SALDEF directly toll free at 1.877.91SIKHS or via our Report an Incident Form
 

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