Youth Assailants in California Learn About Sikh Americans

October 17, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: SALDEF

Over the past several months, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the nation’s oldest and largest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization, in collaboration with the San Jose Gurdwara, was involved with the administration of a probation period for 4 youth assailants in San Jose.

In October 2007, SALDEF was contacted by a Sikh family in San Jose who was concerned with the increase in the number of attacks on their home. For months, the Singh residence was the site of numerous hate-motivated attacks on their property. Their home was spray painted with vulgar language such as “Osama,” “Al Qaida,” and “Nigger.” Their home was toilet-papered on numerous occasions and the family frequently received vulgar and threatening phone calls in the middle of the night.

Through their perseverance, the family was able to catch the assailants -- 4 Southeast Asian and 1 South Asian teenagers -- by identifying the vehicle and license plate number that they saw in front of their house.

On more then one occasion the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) commented to the family that the attacks were simply pranks and nothing to worry about. However, it was clear to SALDEF that after the non-action by the police and a rumor that spread about a physical threat being made against the family’s son, that action was needed.

SALDEF immediately reached out to the SJPD and District Attorney to ensure that the assailants were prosecuted and offer SALDEF as a resource for law enforcement authorities in dealing with the case.

After working with the SJPD, San Jose Gurdwara Management, the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, and the Santa Clara Probation Department, SALDEF, with the support of the family, was successful in negotiating that all 4 of the boys who were convicted go through an education series about Sikh traditions and beliefs as well as curriculum around hate and intolerance and its effect on the larger community.