Two men charged with hate crime in attack
on Sikh in California
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[October 15, 2016]
By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) - Two men who are accused of
attacking a Sikh man in California by punching him, knocking off his
turban and cutting his hair were charged on Friday with assault as a
hate crime, according to local media.
The attack followed a number of similar beatings of Sikhs in the United
States over a period of more than a decade.
Hate crime-tracking groups say assailants have occasionally mistaken
Sikhs for Muslims, who themselves have also been victimized in
religiously motivated hate crimes.
It was not immediately clear if the two men charged on Friday had
obtained an attorney and they could not be reached for comment.
The Sikh man, Maan Singh Khalsa, has told police he was in his car at a
red light in the San Francisco suburb of Richmond on Sept. 25 when
someone in a truck threw a beer can at him, according to the San
Khalsa, 41, got out of his car and flung the can back. When he drove
off, the men in the truck followed him, according to local media.
They caught up to him at an intersection, and two men exited the vehicle
and punched Khalsa through his open window, knocking off his turban, the
Chronicle reported, citing prosecutors.
Prosecutors say one of the assailants, Chase Bryan Little, 31, cut
Khalsa's hair with a knife, according to the Chronicle.
"The savage cutting of Mr. Khalsa's unshorn hair, a sacred article of
his faith, constitutes a hate crime under the law," Simon O'Connell, a
Contra Costa County deputy district attorney, said in a statement to
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A representative for the District Attorney's Office could not be
reached for comment.
Little and a second man, Colton Tye Leblanc, 24, were charged on
Friday with assault by means to produce great bodily injury and
assault with a deadly weapon, according to documents posted on the
website of San Francisco television station KQED.
The charges carried hate crime enhancements, the charging documents
Little, who was arrested after the attack, and Leblanc, who is still
outstanding, are from Texas and were in California to work at a
refinery, according to local media.
The New York-based Sikh Coalition said in a statement on its website
it had joined with civil rights groups in urging prosecutors to file
hate crime charges in the attack on Khalsa, who was said to be an
information technology specialist.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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