American Turban

From California to New York: a tale of two hate crimes

A disturbing twist of fate over the past few days saw a new hate crime against a Sikh come to light as another finally saw its resolution. It is a haunting reminder of the added hostility that Sikhs must face whenever they go out in public.

Pedro Ramirez was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his November, 2010 attack on taxi driver Harbhajan Singh in West Sacramento, California:

Pedro Ramirez, 42, was sentenced Friday by Yolo County Superior Court Judge Timothy Fall. Ramirez pleaded no-contest March 7 to a felony assault charge and admitted that his attack on cab driver Harbhajan Singh was a hate crime. Ramirez also admitted that he caused great bodily injury to the victim, according to a Yolo County District Attorney’s Office news release.

Last March, Ramirez changed his plea to deny that his was a hate-related crime, however, as part of a plea deal,  it seems he has now admitted that his attack on Harbhajan Singh was motivated by hate.

While there is a sense of comfort that justice has been meted out in this California case, disturbing news of an attack on a Sikh in New York emerged over these same few days:

The Sikh MTA employee was riding a Brooklyn A train on Memorial Day when a hate-spewing straphanger accused him of being related to Osama Bin Laden and then sucker-punched him.

“He was saying, ‘You are the brother of Osama,'” said [Jiwan] Singh, 59, who lost three teeth from the blows. “I said, ‘I am not Osama. I have nothing to do with him!'”

Sadly, in both cases, the victims are older Sikh men who were quietly going about their business and without any provocation were victims of an attack that invoked the name of Osama bin Laden.  Ironically, the attackers in both cases were also members of ethnic minorities.

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