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US Hate Crime Convict to Study Sikhism As a Part of Jail Sentence

A US judge has ordered a white youth, who admitted to attacking a Sikh store owner because of his religion, to learn more about the faith and submit a report in the court as part of his sentence for committing the hate crime.

Marion County Judge Lindsay Partridge also sentenced 25-year-old Andrew Ramsey to three years of imprisonment, according to a press release issued by the Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh body in America.

On 14 January, Ramsey brutally assaulted Harwinder Singh Dodd, who was working at a convenience store in the US State of Oregon, because of his perception of his religion.

Ramsey wanted rolling papers for cigarettes, but did not have an ID and the clerk would not sell them to him without the document, as required by law. When Dodd asked Ramsey to leave, he attacked him by pulling his beard, punching him in the face, pulling him to the ground and kicking him.

Ramsey also spat on Dodd and ripped his turban off his head, the press release said.

The youth pleaded guilty in Marion County Circuit Court to second-degree intimidation, a hate crime under Oregon law.Sentencing Ramsey to 36 months in jail on Friday, the judge ordered him to attend the local temple’s annual parade to learn more about the Sikh religion, saying bigotry is the result of ignorance and “all of us are able to learn and benefit from cultures in our community”.

“Judge Partridge ruled Ramsey is required to seek drug and alcohol treatment along with mental health treatment. Judge Partridge also included restorative justice components as part of Ramsey’s probation, including a requirement that he obtain an awareness of Sikhism and report what he has learned to the court,” the Sikh Coalition said.

In a written statement to the court, Dodd said, “Every person should be able to live their life without fear of being targeted because of who they are, or how they practice their faith.”

According to the Sikh Coalition, Sikhs in America remain hundreds of times more likely to experience bigotry, bias or backlash than the average American.

“This conviction is a much-needed step for Oregon in its broader efforts to make all our communities safe from hate,” it said.

As per a FBI report, hate crimes increased by over 40 percent in Oregon in the last one year. In May 2018, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum established a special task force designed to explore ways to improve measures to combat and prevent hate.

Recently, Senate Bill 577 was introduced to strengthen the state’s laws against hate crimes. This proposed bill renames crime of intimidation as bias crime, the Sikh Coalition said.

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