In Buena Park, California, a Sikh temple was vandalized with anti-Muslim profanity just days after the mass shooting in San Bernadino. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Hate Crime Inquiry Opened Into Vandalism of Sikh Temple in California
On Sunday morning, community members discovered graffiti on the exterior of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha. Someone had also spray-painted gang tags and "FUCK ISIS" on a tractor-trailer in the temple's parking lot.
Community members believe the vandalism was anti-Muslim backlash for the mass shooting last week at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernadino, where fourteen people were killed.
The graffiti was discovered on Sunday morning on the walls of the parking lot of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha as well as on a tractor-trailer parked there, said Jaspreet Singh, a board member of the temple.
"The graffiti had gang codes and a racial slur and profanity in reference to ISIS and Islam, which was misspelled," Mr. Singh said. He said community members believed it was backlash for the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, which is only about 50 miles away.
"We are shocked by this incident and are concerned about our safety," he said. "We are definitely scared now."
The Sikh community has often been a target of Islamophobic violence and abuse because of their dress and grooming. Observant Sikh men traditionally wear turbans and beards. Members of Gurdwara Singh Sabha believe their house of worship was vandalized in a case of "mistaken identity," but are still calling on authorities to investigate the graffiti as a hate crime.
Investigators initially said that there was no indication or evidence that the graffiti was a hate crime. But on Wednesday, Buena Park police announced they had opened a hate crimes investigation into the case, and will be increasing patrols near the temple.
"The writing, because of what it is and because of the history of Sikhs being targeted in the past for retaliation after terrorist attacks, we are investigating it," Corporal Bret Carter, spokesman for the Buena Park Police Department, told the New York Times. "We want to take extra precautions to determine if this is a hate crime."
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