December 8, 2015 (Buena Park, CA) – In the cover of darkness between Saturday night and Sunday morning, a Sikh gurdwara (house of worship) in Orange County, CA, along with a community member’s truck in the parking lot, were vandalized with hateful graffiti. The graffiti included the phrase, “Fuck ISIS,” along with gang references.
While some of the graffiti is illegible, the graffiti on the truck clearly indicated bias, including the words “Islahm” (sic) and “Fuck ISIS.” The Gurdwara Singh Sabha’s board members and community members reported the crime to the Buena Park Police Department on Sunday, December 6th and are actively cooperating with law enforcement.
Sikhs wear their articles of faith (including turbans and beards) to show their commitment to justice, equality and the rights of all. While Sikhs have been an integral part of the American fabric for over 125 years, the community has faced disproportionate discrimination and targeted hate crimes in the 14 years since 9/11. To learn more basics about the Sikh faith and community, click here.
“We believe that the Gurdwara Singh Sabha was vandalized because it is a Sikh house of worship,” said the Sikh Coalition’s Senior Staff Attorney, Gurjot Kaur. “We call on local and federal agencies to investigate this vandalism as a hate crime and request increased law enforcement security at the gurdwara immediately.” Gang graffiti can be a precursor for additional targeted violence.
This act of vandalism, in the aftermath of the San Bernardino tragedy, is just the latest in a line of hate crimes against Sikhs in America. In September, a Sikh American father was viciously assaulted in a suburb outside of Chicago after being called “Bin Laden.” In 2014, Sandeep Singh, a Sikh American father in New York City, was run over and dragged 30 feet after being called a “terrorist.” In 2012, a gunman with Neo-Nazi ties walked into a Sikh gurdwara and shot and killed six innocent Sikh in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
“I am thankful for law enforcement’s attention to this investigation,” said Gurdwara President Inderjot Singh. “However, I believe this crime must be investigated as a hate crime to ensure that we do not ignore the patterns of intolerance and violence that Sikhs and other minority communities continue to face.”
The Sikh community member who owned the truck was visiting from out-of-state (possibly Texas) and left the area shortly after the incident. The Sikh Coalition asks the owner of the truck or anyone who may know him to come forward and assist with this investigation.
The Sikh Coalition has represented hate crime clients throughout the United States for the past 14 years and is representing the Buena Park Gurdwara Singh Sabha in this case. For all media inquires or photographs of the vandalism, please contact Mark Reading-Smith or Jagmeet Singh. They can promptly connect you with Orange County Sikh community members or legal representation for interviews.
Primary Press Contact: Mark Reading-Smith
Media & Communications Director, the Sikh Coalition
Secondary Press Contact: Jagmeet Singh
Media & Communications Manager, the Sikh Coalition