A Sikh man who was choked and brutally attacked was left bleeding with bumps, cuts, and bruises in a 4 a.m. Sunday incident in front of his apartment complex in Richmond, California, according to Richmond Police spokesperson Sgt. Enrik Melgoza, who said a hate crime is not suspected despite reaction from the Sikh community.
“We have no indication at this time that it’s a hate crime,” Melgoza told indica, adding that the 57-year-old victim, Baljeet Singh Sidhu, called police. The case remains under investigation as an assault, and no arrest has yet been made, Melgoza said,
United Sikhs, a civil rights advocacy nonprofit organization working on the case, said they believe the incident was a hate crime.
“Sidhu works as a taxi driver, and a part-time USPS mail carrier, and is known in his neighborhood, and he was singled out because of his appearance,” Megan Daly, director of public policy and communications at the United Sikhs, told indica. Daly said the victim is in shock and remembers little of the attack in which his was struck on the head and face with a barbecue pan.
On its website, the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), an American Muslim advocacy group, expressed solidarity with the Sikh community and said the organization has also called on authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for the attack.
Melgoza said the assailant acted alone and was of Middle Eastern decent. According to media reports there was a door camera that has not been helpful to police in their investigation.
“The camera doesn’t show [the assailant’s] face at all,” said Melgoza. “The camera failed to capture it due to [his] hoodie, and there is no proof that is the suspect.”
Melgoza added that the camera video shows a man standing at the door away from where the incident took place.
Sidhu told police his attacker might be 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a light complexion and dark hair. Sidhu was able to capture the hoodie the assailant was wearing when a nearby security guard heard the commotion.
United Sikhs has asked the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of US Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., to coordinate with the local authorities and intervene in this matter, Daly said
Daly said Sidhu was parking near his apartment complex when a man came up to him and asked him for a lighter. Sidhu, who was returning home from his shift, said he didn’t have one and the man left but returned to ask for $5 and a ride. “It looked suspicious,” Sidhu said.
Sidhu, talking about the attack with KTVU, said that the attacker choked his neck with his arm, and the victim said his main concern was to get free , which he did and yelled for help. A Hilltop Mall security officer came to help, and the attacker ran off.
The victim’s daughter Gaganjot Sidhu came outside after he called her for help and saw her father’s turban and face covered in blood.
“It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen,” she told KTVU.com. “No daughter wants to see her father in that condition.”
The victim said his garb makes him stand out.
“We can see that I’m wearing a turban. I have a beard. We look different,” he said.
Daly told indica, she understands there are difficulties with evidence in this case. The FBI last month released a hate-crime report which shows anti-Sikh hate crimes in the United States increased 200 percent from 2017 to 2018.
It’s often very difficult to classify hate crimes, and this man did not take any money, but when he was offered money he viciously attacked the victim.
“He had a barbecue pan, that is what make us believe it was a targeted attack,” said Daly, “We wonder from where he got that. And why would someone carry a barbecue pan at 4 a.m.?”
The victim’s daughter said she believes the attack was a hate crime, saying, “He had a clear intention of hurting my dad.”
The assailant was clearly hiding and waiting to attack, said the victim’s daughter.