One year after Hate Crime

Sukhvir Singh, victim of hate crime speaks exclusively to Aasra Magazine

I remember the words of King County Superior Court Judge Monica J. Benton while delivering judgment, said Vázquez  should be given leniency in the same way that Singh has given forgiveness, adding that the attack only reiterated that the community needs to "talk about and address our racial differences. When one drinks, as you did, Mr. Vázquez , those deep-seated fears arise and those prejudices surface," she said. "It is unfortunate, truly, that you do not recall this event, because he will never forget it." The recent FBI report “Hate Crime in Washington State on the increase” is a real eye opener.  Are we doing anything?  Are we delivering the right message?

I went to see Sukhvir Singh who suffered hate crime almost one year back.  On the night of November 24, 2007 after police directed a drunken Mr. Vázquez to be driven home in Sukhvir's cab.  Mr. Vázquez  called Sukhvir an "Iraqi terrorist" and threatened to kill him. As his anger escalated, he attacked Sukhvir from the back seat, putting him in a chokehold, knocking off his turban, biting into his head, and pulling out clumps of his hair. Sukhvir Singh became the innocent victim to vent anger and frustration and hate that Luis Vázquez  was hovering because of alcohol and having been turned away from Apple Cup at the Husky Stadium. This lead to numerous calls to 911 center from others using the freeway.  Everyone was impressed by the calm of Sukhvir Singh who barely escaped death and brought the taxi to a stop at the busy time of traffic.  The attack led to traffic being held up on Interstate 5 highway until the police intervened.  Singh, who pulled to the side of the freeway, told police that he had been afraid for his life and that of others on the road.

“We should educate the community about our religion right from School level. It has to be done quickly.  It is very hard to remove hatred from an individual. Sukhvir Singh does not think even the Sikh community has done much to educate in the wake of hate crime.  We need to open our doors of Gurudwara Sahib and invite more people in.  Our Gurus have taught us to love everyone.  We need to spread that love among the community.  The educated people should come forward to convey the message of equality and brotherhood.  Everyone is equal.  We are all children of the same God.  The laws in the U.S.A. are good.  That is the main reason that we are all here.”  Sukhvir Singh says even today he fears he can be a victim of hate crime. “Hate crime can happen with anyone even today.  We all have to face minor occurrences on a daily basis, whether it is reported or not.  Taxi drivers are more vulnerable.  If the passenger is drunk or has used drugs he will vent hatred and jealousy.  Some would do it to rob money.  Everyone is equal and deserves to be treated with respect.”

On personal level Sukhvir Singh has

attended the “Muslim, Sikh and Arab Advisory Council Meeting” organized by the Seattle Police Department.  He has distributed pamphlets and literature about Sikh religion.  He commended the University of Washington students Jay Singh and Paul Bassi to distribute pamphlets about Sikh religion.  He says he has hung it in his cab.  Some of his passengers are totally ignorant about Sikh religion.  “I will keep on doing whatever I can to promote understanding.”





Aasra Magazine is the first nationwide American Sikh magazine in print and on the Web, and available by subscription as well. Public education through a strong Sikh media can overcome much bigotry and intolerance. It is for this purpose of Connecting Communities that editions of Aasra Magazine have been published every two months since 2006. Unless the institutions make a sincere effort to educate the community, such sad stories will continue to surface and our city will continue to be haunted by such incidents of hate crime.

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