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USA Sikh Coalition Intervenes: Federal Criminal Charges Against Sikh Dropped


1947-2014 (Archived)
by Gurtej Singh

California, USA (July 5, 2011): A U.S. federal prosecutor dropped criminal charges against a Sikh for wearing his kirpan into a federal facility. To the Sikh Coalition’s knowledge, this is the first time that a federal prosecutor has ever dropped criminal charges against a Sikh for carrying a kirpan.

In May 2011, a routine truck delivery onto a military post in Herlong, California turned into a nightmare for a Sikh truck driver.

After noticing the Sikh truck driver’s kirpan (full name withheld because he requests anonymity), law enforcement officers drew their guns and removed his kirpan. He was then searched, and detained in handcuffs for several hours. Officers also removed his turban while he was in custody.

The Sikh truck driver was then criminally charged with violating a federal law that prohibits weapons in federal facilities. An individual found guilty of violating this law can face one year of imprisonment. The officers did not return the Sikh’s kirpan.

Following this injustice, the family immediately contacted the Sikh Coalition for assistance. The Coalition contacted the prosecutor’s office and requested that the criminal charges be dropped immediately. The Coalition sent the prosecution over 30 pages of legal precedent and policy underscoring Sikhs’ right to wear kirpans. Within weeks, the Coalition was successful in getting all of the charges dropped.

The Coalition also secured the return of the Sikh’s kirpan, and plans to request that relevant law enforcement officers receive training on Sikhism so no other Sikh has to suffer the same mistreatment.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Everyone is innocent until proved guilty... but here the situation is either ridiculous or outrageous depending on your perspective. The Federal government on the one hand is through the very same Department of Justice launching Kirpan/Turban awareness programs, and on the other hand we read a story like this. Now in this instance, the criminal charge was probably mandated by statute for the time of arrest. But we are reading just one more example of pervasive ignorance and lack of oversight. California is well-stocked with dastardharee Sikhs. Perhaps the foot soldier in the federal police force did not realize what a kirpan is, but there is no excuse for anyone at the prosecution level to play stupid.

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