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USA Two Suspects Held In Attack Described As Hate Crime


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
West Sacramento police have arrested two suspects in connection with an early Sunday morning assault on a Sikh cab driver.

Pedro Ramirez, 41, and Johnny Morales, 33, turned themselves in Thursday evening to police and were arrested on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon and commission of a hate crime, according to Lt. Tod Sockman.

Both were booked at Yolo County Jail. Ramirez is being held in lieu of $150,000 bail, Sockman said.

West Sacramento detectives and the Sacramento Police Department SWAT team executed search and arrest warrants Tuesday morning in the 3500 block of Binghampton Drive in the South Natomas area of Sacramento.

Ramirez was not at home, but detectives searched the residence for evidence related to the assault.

Sockman said detectives also are seeking two other suspects.

The cab driver told police that he had picked up four people, two men and two women, in Sacramento and driven them to West Sacramento, where two of the passengers assaulted him and demanded money.

One of the women tried to stop the assault and was beaten as well, officials said.

The driver fled when the passengers got out of the cab.

Sockman said that based on initial interviews with the driver at the scene, it sounded as though the assault was a case involving intoxicated passengers. But in later interviews, Sockman said, the driver reported that his assailants uttered anti-Islamic slurs as they were beating him.

Darshan Singh Mundy, a spokesman for the local Sikh community and West Sacramento Sikh Temple, said he spoke with the cab driver after the assault and believes the attack was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments. Sikhs, he noted, are often mistaken for Muslims.

"He has a beard and he was wearing a turban," Mundy said of the cab driver. "He told them he was from India and wasn't Muslim."

Representatives of the Sikh community and the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged authorities to pursue the matter as a hate crime.

Amar Shergill, an attorney and member of the West Sacramento Sikh Temple, said he was pleased with the response by local and federal authorities and their efforts to reach out to the victim and his family.

Most people who wear turbans in the United States are Sikhs, not Muslims, Shergill said, and it is important that people understand that wearing a turban has nothing to do with terrorism. Assuming anyone who wears a turban is a terrorist is like assuming anyone who wears a baseball cap is affiliated with a professional baseball team, he said.

Although many in the Sikh community, including the cab driver, report being subjected to name-calling, physical attacks are rare, Shergill said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call West Sacramento Police Department Investigations at (916) 617-4960, or police dispatch at (916) 375-6474.

By Cathy Locke
Published: Friday, Dec. 3, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Friday, Dec. 3, 2010 - 12:09 am

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/12/03/3229619/police-fbi-investigate-cab-driver.html#ixzz175VRYuY1
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