In September 2020, CRS conducted a virtual Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes forum in response to community tension following an alleged hate crime against a Sikh business owner that involved both assault and vandalism.
In April 2020, a white man entered a Lakewood, Colorado, liquor store and began knocking items off the counter and yelling that Sikh business owners did not belong in the country because they were from the Middle East. The perpetrator fled to his car, allegedly running over the business owner when he attempted to record the car’s license plate, leaving the owner hospitalized for a month with extensive injuries. The assailant was charged with a hate crime and attempted murder, in addition to other charges. The community believed the motivation for the attempted murder was due to the victim’s perceived national origin and religion.
Following the incident, CRS began to discuss ways to address the resulting community tension with Colorado Sikh Temple leadership. In July 2020, CRS began facilitating meetings with Sikh and other community members to plan a forum for the Sikh community that would include a hate crimes briefing, information about where and how to report hate crimes, and an update on the pending charges against the assailant.
An audience of 25 community members and federal law enforcement attended the virtual forum, hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado (USAO-CO) and facilitated by CRS. During the forum, presenters shared information on federal, state, and local hate crimes laws, as well as methods to combat and respond to bias incidents and hate crimes. Presenters included representatives of the Denver field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), USAO-CO, Denver County District Attorney’s Office, Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Office/Hate Free Colorado, Sikh Coalition, and an international civil and human rights organization. An FBI field agent also provided interpretation services in Punjabi during the program.