Sikh Gurdwara Vandalized; SALDEF Calls for Hate Crime Investigation

February 7th, 2012

February 7, 2012—Late yesterday, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) called on local and federal authorities to initiate a hate crime investigation into the vandalism and defacing with graffiti of a gurdwara (Sikh congregational place of worship) in Sterling Heights, MI.

According to reports directly from the gurdwara management committee, the vandalism happened between the evening of Feb 5th and the morning of February 6, 2012.  The graffiti included vulgar language, racial epithets, the use of what appears to be a cross, a large drawing of a gun, and references to the attacks of September 11th.

The new site of the gurdwara has been under construction and is due for completion this summer, leaving it uninhabited when the crime took place.  The construction has been ongoing, and recently the exterior had been painted, with the graffiti now taking up a large area on the building’s front wall.

No witnesses have come forward yet, but anyone with information regarding this situation should please contact the Sterling Heights Police Department directly.

“Attacks and vandalism against any of the nation’s houses of worship must be condemned by all Americans. This type of crime strikes at the very foundation of religious tolerance, the foundation this country was built upon,” said SALDEF Associate Executive Director Jasjit Singh. “We call upon local and federal law enforcement agencies to rightfully classify this incident as a hate crime and bring the perpetrators to justice to show that hate and violence are not tolerated in our society.”

SALDEF has been in contact with the Sterling Heights Police Department, Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to urge their action on this matter and to offer our support in the investigation.

SALDEF urges all Sikh Americans to immediately report any incidents of harassment, bullying or assault to SALDEF and your local authorities. If you or someone you know has been a victim of any racially motivated crime, please contact SALDEF directly at 202.403.0246 or via our Report an Incident Form.

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