Recently, a few blocks away from my home, one of my own was shot at in his driveway while he was working on his car. His name is Deep Singh Rai. Deep means light in Indian language and Rai is an honor. I probably know him by face. Who can’t relate to this? We all have worked on our car; added oil or filled the washer in our driveway. But this is the neighborhood we live in today. This could happen to anyone. My cousin, who lives out of state, called to see if it was me after he heard the news, since the name of the victim had not been given out. 

Almost immediately, the police issued a statement. They are seeking help to identify the suspect. "The gunman is believed to be a  6-foot-tall, stocky white man wearing dark color hoody and  a mask on the lower half of his face.  Police have set up a phone line for tips: 253-856-5808, and the FBI is offering a reward of up to $6,000 for information. In addition, CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of $1,000 and is accepting anonymous tips at 1-800-222-TIPS.

 Deep Rai told police he was working on his vehicle in the driveway of a Kent home at about 8 p.m. Friday when a 6-foot-tall, stocky white man approached wearing a mask on the lower half of his face. The suspect was well prepared. The chance of finding him is rare. This means he is still living amongst us and may strike again.

The dictionary meaning of “hate crime” is: “a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence.”

If you are a survivor of a hate crime, remember, you do not have to be a HERO. Your goal is to identify the perpetrator after the incident. Remember he is well prepared. He may be armed and dangerous and was probably planning the attack beforehand. Your survival, with a minimum of injuries, is more important than anything else. 

If the person is masked and has gloves on, then he is going to do more harm. You should not argue. Let him speak his mind. If he asks for money, give him. He is a beggar. Cooperate with him. Do whatever you can so that you survive. And if you have no choice, fight him to your best ability. He has a restriction: he is covering his face. Try to hit him and overpower him. If the suspect is caught he may say he did not mean or want to kill you but only make an impression. He will not come back to kill you. These are my feelings based on my own experience. But use your instincts. You are the best judge in that moment.

Keep all the details you can. Call the police and EMT. They will analyze the situation. Do not change clothes or touch anything. What color was his hooded shirt? What about the mask? Could you recognize him after he leaves? Often the Police have pictures of criminals. Was he wearing gloves? What color were they? Rubber, cloth or leather? Any rings if no gloves? Any obvious tattoos or signs or marks anywhere on the skin? Color of the eyes? Any beard? His walking style? Color of his pants? His shoes? Leather or canvas? Any limp? What was the argument? His exact words? Did he say any “F” word or any slur or be derogatory towards a "Muslim" or other religion? How long he was with you? Did he show up out of the blue or did you see him walk towards you? Were shots fired? If so, how many? 

Although we are sometimes scared and don’t want any media attention, we should all stand against it. We should not hide from the media but rather take a stand to oppose violence. It may be a “peace rally” or “candle light vigil” or other ways to make known that the whole community stands against violence. Invite the politicians, and other dignitaries. Invite the media. It also leaves a wonderful impression on the minds of children. Children have faced bullying. They will get the strength to raise their voice against it. This will lead to standing up against injustice in the future. We all must stand up together. Everyone should voice their concerns. Above all, we need to educate the community. If we identify a problem, we can and should find a solution. That solution may be followed by others too. But if we ignore a problem it can multiply. 

How much should we just “take it?” Should we report minor issues? In this world, we should not, and do not deserve to be mistreated. This may build up anger and frustration for us and at the same time encourage more of such behavior. Vent yourself. Use websites, forums or other areas to speak up. Sikhs are not afraid. We are the embodiment of “Saint-Soldier.” We are known to defend ourselves. We are known to stand against an enemy of Sava Lakh (one and a quarter million.) But if someone comes out of the blue and is armed we are innocent victims. Please do not think that this is less than a fight. Your reply to the perpetrator and standing for justice is also a battle that you must win. Don’t just be a coward and keep quiet!

Gurudwara Sahib and other Sikh Institutes should be looking for opportunities and taking steps to educate the community. They should find ways to open their doors to other communities. The community should encourage and contribute to those who are devoting their time, and often their own money to educate others about Sikhs. The Gurdwaras should step up and add to the prize money to make it more lucrative and to make sure that the culprit is brought to justice. 

Keep your life normal. Talk to other hate crime victims. We have support groups. But lot more needs to be done. Use all the resources you can find. They may be able to connect you with other hate crime survivors. Some Sikhs might say “This country belongs to the White Americans. We are a minority.” That is ok. Maybe they are speaking the truth. They are trying to calm your anger. Talk to the media. The media is your friend and are trying to help you. You can start slow with newspaper or magazine interviews and then go in front of the camera. Show your wounds. Share your feelings. Your major coverage will be in the magazines and newspapers. Very little will be on the radio and only a fraction on TV. Remember, even if you have been under the lights of TV for quite some time, very little of it will actually be broadcast. Coverage may be for few minutes initially; which may be edited to few seconds in future broadcasts. You may not like what they write or broadcast, but it is still worth it.

If it is a magazine or a newspaper you can write a “letter to the editor” and they should print it. For a few weeks it may be a little overwhelming but then it is life as usual. (Gosh! You were just getting used to it.) They may reach you again as future developments unfold. 

When the suspect is caught or sentenced, you are a survivor. We may not have known anything, had you not survived. But Waheguru has chosen you to speak for the community. Dedicate your life, or at least some time, to educate the ignorant. Read about Gabriella Gifford or Maria Federici or Elizabeth Smart and others. They also got hurt and they are trying to change laws. This is what you should do. Sometimes good things come out of bad ones. 

Even the well-known AMBER ALERT came out after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996.

Actively help and you will find peace and happiness.

For the five Year Celebration of “India USA Magazine” we organized a brief presentation about the Sikh community at the Covington Library. At the time, I had approached the Kent Library and Seattle Library to do the presentation but they did not seem to be interested. Fortunately, it worked well at the Covington Library which is close to Kent. Sometime in 2012, one of the organizers from the library contacted me to repeat the presentation. We organized three such information presentations. At the time, I had expressed that it needs to be well advertised. This was not done. We had very limited participation. We usually volunteer to dedicate some time to hold such presentations. 

Sometime I stop at the entrance of the library and talk to those who promote Christianity. I usually talk to those who knock at my door to promote Christianity. Since we do not promote Sikhism or convert others, we are little behind, but we should probably be more active in informing the public. To curtail such hate crimes, we all need to stand together. I feel that the National Media or the leading newspapers do not usually represent us fairly. If you are a victim of hate crime, please consider it as a service for the community. Maybe, Waheguru has given you an opportunity to speak for the community. Guru ji has made us stand out in Sava Lakh. We need to do everything in our power to make sure that no one else in the community needs to face this. We celebrate Shahidi, we celebrate Ghalu Kara. We remember our martyrs. 

It was heart rending to hear Rana Singh Sodhi, Balbir Singh Sodhi’s brother, talk to the man who murdered his brother. Sometimes I wonder about the consciousness of the person who is racially motivated and hurts an innocent person. Lot of the time the media can’t and may not report the complete “in depth” coverage… leaving us in the cold. 

If you do not wish to stand out, I respect your feelings regarding not being in the limelight. As my father always said, “If you have done something good and you deserve praise, then by all means stand out.” I realize that even though this is a hate crime, we can use the opportunity to make ourselves known. This world, nor any country in it, belongs to anyone. We are all pilgrims on our journey passing through this world. We were all born and someday we all must die and leave this physical world for somewhere else. Our home, our car, our possessions must all be left behind. We can’t even take with us a small needle. Let us reach out to each other to make this world a better place. 


Today the world is so close together.

The news travels so fast,

I know more about you and the world around me

I have traveled miles to be part of this country,

To this neighborhood, I call home.

What am I looking for?

Peace, Love, and Friendship.

Peace in this world and

Peace within myself.

The earth is the same. The sky is the same.

The sun rises and sets the same way.

The stars twinkle just the same.

Seasons come and go as they did in my country.

And now, it feels as my own home.

Alas! As much as I know you

We are all tattered apart.

War drums sound at a distance

We are all being driven into fragments.

Life is so fragile

And it is being destructive.

For God's sake,

Let us all join each other

In Friendship. In Love. And in Peace.


ਨਕਿ ਨਥ ਖਸਮ ਹਥ ਕਿਰਤੁ ਧਕੇ ਦੇ ॥
ਜਹਾ ਦਾਣੇ ਤਹਾਂ ਖਾਣੇ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸਚੁ ਹੇ ॥2॥

“Nak nath khasam hath kirat dhake de

Jahan dane tahan khane nanak sach hai”

The string through the nose is in the hands of the Lord Master; one's own actions drive him on.

Wherever his food is, there he eats it; O Nanak, this is the Truth. ||2||

There is a beautiful saying in Sikh religion that broadly means: “Your destiny is not in your hand. God himself takes you where you are destined to be.” 

Author’s Note: This is just a general article. I am not writing about the legal or medical or other steps you should be taking if you are a victim of hate crime. Please Google it and you should be able to find great information. I welcome any feedback.

Photo credit: Copyright: nomadsoul1 / 123RF Stock Photo

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