Assailants of Sikh in US escape hate crime charge

March 22nd, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by admin  

New York, March 22 (IANS) A jury in Oregon has declined to indict three men for committing a hate crime when they tore off and did away with a Sikh trucker’s turban. Instead, the culprits have been indicted on the lesser charges of harassment and theft in the third degree, disappointing the Sikh community. “Burning a cross on an African American’s lawn is not a mere act of vandalism, and stealing a Sikh’s turban is not a misdemeanour theft. They are both hate crimes,” said Amardeep Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition, commenting on the verdict that came earlier this week.

On Aug 5 last year, when the victim, Ranjit Singh, was leaving a convenience store at a truck stop in Oakland, Oregon, three men approached him and tore off his turban before driving away.

Within a month, the assailants were arrested and charged with hate crimes.

Now the jury has decided that evidence is not sufficient to move forward with a hate crime prosecution.

In a press release, the Sikh Coalition has expressed disappointment that the dollar value of Ranjit Singh’s turban arose as an issue during the jury proceedings, while “the turban is a priceless article of faith for Sikhs”.

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