Police in the US state of Oregon have charged a white man with hate crimes for brutally assaulting a Sikh employee at a convenience store on Monday for refusing to sell him cigarette rolling papers without seeing his identity papers.
Andrew Ramsey, 24, had assaulted Harwinder Dodd, the store clerk, for his religion, according to court documents cited by local media outlets.One of the charges is intimidation in the second degree, a misdemeanour hate crime.
“We believe it (the attack) had to do with the worker’s ethnic background and possible religious beliefs,” said Lt. Treven Upkes of the Salem Police Department, according to a local TV network KATU 2.
Ramsey had pulled on Dodd’s beard, punched him in the face, threw him to the ground and kicked him, before others in the store, including Justin Brecht, an Oregon state legislative aide and former Marine, intervened to pull aside the alleged assailant and held him till police officer arrived to take him into custody.
Sikhs have been targets of an increasing number of hate crimes, with offences ranging from verbal slurs to physical assaults of the kind suffered by Dodd to murder and mass killings such as the 2012 massacre of 6 Sikh men and women by a white supremacists at Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
There were 24 incidents of hate-crimes against Sikhs in 2017, according to the FBI’s 2018 annual report,, which marked a 243% increase in anti-Sikh hate crimes over 2016, noted Sikh Coalition, an advocacy group, which says the number is far higher in reality. “Due to systemic underreporting, there remains a significant gap between FBI hate crime data and the reality on the ground for Sikhs and other minority communities across the United States.”
In the incident in Oregon, Brecht told Fox 12, a local TV network, that he saw Ramsey arguing with the store clerk. He wanted to buy rolling papers for cigarettes, but Dodd wanted to see an ID first.
Ramey was “just yelling, trying to fight”, Brecht said to Fox 12. And when asked to leave, he attacked Dodd.
He started “pulling on (Dodd’s) beard and just started punching him in the face, and he pulled him to the ground and started kicking him”.
Brecht saw Dodd “bleeding, he had gotten punched quite a bit in the face, and kicked on the ground and thrown to the ground very brutally. It was very serious”.
The assailant also threw a shoe at Dodd, according to police, and tried to grab his turban.