By Sam Tabachnik | UNITED STATES |
Sikh community members in Colorado and around the country are calling for hate crime charges in Jefferson County, two months after a Lakewood store owner was run over by a driver and told to “go back to your country” during a brutal assault that left the man hospitalized for months.
On Tuesday, 29 civil rights organizations and interfaith groups signed a letter, urging First Judicial District Attorney Pete Weir investigate the April 29 assault on Lakhwant Singh as a hate crime.
“For us to be even able to address hate as community, that hate first has to be acknowledged,” said Nikki Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s policy and advocacy manager. “Not only will we hopefully get justice for Singh, but it sends a much larger message that hate is wrong. It doesn’t just affect one community, it affects lots of communities.”
Around 11 p.m. that day, Eric Breemen, 36, walked into Two Angels liquor store in Lakewood and started knocking over items on the shelf, Lakhwant Singh’s wife told investigators, according to an arrest affidavit.
As he was damaging the store, Breemen repeatedly told Singh and his wife to “go back to your country,” Nikki Singh said. When Lakhwant Singh went outside to take a picture of Breemen’s license plate, the man allegedly struck Singh with his car, running him over with both the front and rear wheels, the arrest affidavit said.
Breemen has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, among other charges, in connection with three alleged assaults that day, including Singh’s. He has not been charged with a bias-motivated crime. Breemen, who remains in custody, will appear in court July 24 for a preliminary hearing.
The Sikh Coalition, and other organizations, believe the incident should be considered a hate crime due to the comments made in the store, as well as Breemen identifying Singh as an “older Arab” in his police report, Nikki Singh said.
The incident has galvanized the Sikh community across the country, as people have flooded the district attorney’s office with calls demanding justice.
Read the full story, ‘A Sikh business owner was told to “go back your country” before being run over by a car. Now the community is demanding justice’ (The Denver Post, 1 July 2020), here.
Oregon man charged with hate crime for beating 70-year-old Indian woman (Asia Samachar, 11 June 2020)
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