Primary Press Contact: Jagmeet Singh
Media & Communications Manager, the Sikh Coalition
Secondary Press Contact: Mark Reading-Smith
Media & Communications Director, the Sikh Coalition
Anna Núñez, ACLU of Texas
June 1, 2016 (Amarillo, TX) – Today, 40 civil rights organizations are joining the Sikh Coalition to demand accountability after two brown-skinned men were profiled, falsely arrested and mistreated by authorities in Amarillo, Texas while traveling aboard a Greyhound bus.
In February, the two men – Mr. Daljeet Singh and Mr. Mohammed Chotri, asylum applicants from India and Pakistan respectively – were falsely accused of terrorism, harshly interrogated and arrested at gunpoint by authorities in Potter County, Texas. More than one month after the Sikh Coalition filed a complaint demanding an investigation into the profiling of the Sikh passenger, authorities have failed to address the case.
“I was arrested at gunpoint and wrongfully detained for nearly 30 hours without question, but nobody seems to care that this was the wrong thing to do,” said Daljeet Singh. “My hope is that something like this never happens to another innocent person.”
Mr. Singh, an asylum seeker from India with limited English proficiency, wears a turban and keeps a beard as part of his Sikh identity. These articles of faith, which represent equality, justice and tolerance for all, are routinely misunderstood and falsely linked to terrorism.
The coalition of 40 local and national organizations sent the letter to the Potter County Sheriff’s Office and the Potter County Attorney’s Office this morning. The letter requests a copy of the county’s law enforcement profiling guidelines, new diversity training for law enforcement officers, robust translation services to protect the rights of non-English speakers, and a copy of the county’s redress procedures to ensure that allegations of discriminatory treatment are fully investigated and remedied.
“What happened to these two men is unconscionable. We intend to work closely with local authorities on their training procedures and response protocols to ensure that history isn’t repeated,” said Sikh Coalition Policy Director, Arjun Singh.
The coalition of organizations making these demands includes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and a diverse cross section of civil rights organizations that represent various communities across the United States. In recent months, minority communities have experienced a dramatic spike in backlash and bigotry.
“The steady stream of xenophobic rhetoric from politicians in Texas has contributed to a climate in which innocent people are targeted for discrimination, racial profiling and police overreach,” said Rebecca L. Robertson, Legal and Policy Director at the ACLU of Texas. “In a state as diverse as our own, it’s unacceptable that anyone could be arrested, searched, interrogated and forced to spend the night in jail for speaking Punjabi on a Greyhound bus. And, in a state as deeply religious as Texas, we should demand that police respect all faith traditions.”
The Sikh Coalition represents Mr. Daljeet Singh, who is presently unavailable for interviews at this time. To schedule interviews with policy or legal counsel at the Sikh Coalition or the ACLU of Texas, please contact Mark Reading-Smith or Jagmeet Singh. via sikhcoalition.org