March 4, 2017 (Kent, WA) – On the evening of March 3rd, a 39-year-old Sikh man was shot in his driveway after the gunman allegedly told him to “go back to your own country.”
The Sikh man, who wishes to remain unidentified, is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries as law enforcement agencies continue their search for the gunman.
“While we appreciate the efforts of state and local officials to respond to attacks like this, we need our national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority,” said Sikh Coalition Interim Program Manager, Rajdeep Singh. “Tone matters in our political discourse, because this a matter of life or death for millions of Americans who are worried about losing loved ones to hate.”
The Sikh American community, which has been an integral part of the American fabric for over 125 years, is estimated to be hundreds of times more likely to suffer hate crimes than the average American. This is in part due to the Sikh articles of faith, including a turban and beard, which represent the Sikh religious commitment to justice, tolerance and equality.
“Investigating this as a anti-Sikh hate crime is critical, because without our government agencies recognizing hatred for what it is, we can’t combat the problem,” said Seattle-area Sikh community leader, Jasmit Singh.
The Sikh Coalition and local community leaders have asked local, state and federal officials to investigate this shooting as an anti-Sikh hate crime, improve bias prevention laws, and organize “Know Your Rights” forums to build community resilience and reduce the likelihood of future hate crimes.
The shooting in Kent, Washington shares similarities with the deadly February 22nd shooting in Olathe, Kansas, and follows the larger national pattern of hate violence directed at minority communities across the United States in the wake of the presidential election.