Hate crime charges have been filed against two men accused of assaulting a Sikh man in the United States’ San Francisco Bay Area last month, AP reported on Saturday. The charges were filed after 30 advocacy groups sent a letter to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday asking for action against Chase Little and Colton Leblanc, who attacked Maan Singh Khalsa.
Officials said the assault took place on September 25 while Khalsa was waiting at an intersection in his car. The Sikh Coalition, which is advocating on Khalsa’s behalf, said the two attackers first threw a beer can at his car before assaulting him through an open window, cutting off a portion of his hair and knocking off his turban. They also hit him repeatedly, causing injuries to his eyes, fingers, hands and teeth. One of his fingers will need to be amputated because of injuries sustained while resisting the assault.
While a warrant has been issued for Leblanc, Little is free on bail. Khalsa said his attackers targeted his faith. “The charges are the first step to addressing violence and bigotry, which plague communities across the United States,” he said in a statement. Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said he did not condone the incident.
Discrimination and assaults against Sikhs in the US have risen after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. In 2012, a gunman killed six worshippers at a gurdwara in Wisconsin. in February this year, Sikh actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia was stopped from boarding a New York-bound flight from Mexico City after he refused to remove his turban for a security check. The attacks have been compounded by confusion about the faith of Sikhs, who are often mistaken from Muslims, another group facing persecution in the US.