Hate Crime Investigation Opened After Sikh Temple Tagged With 'F*ck ISIS' [UPDATE]
A Sikh temple was tagged over the weekend, with one mark that read "F*ck ISIS," leading police to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime.
The outside of Buena Park's Gurdwara Singh Sabha, along with a truck in its parking lot, was spray-painted with mostly illegible markings on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. The words "Islahm" and "F*ck ISIS" could be read on the truck, leading members of the Sikh community to believe they were erroneously targeted. "Its a case of mistaken identity," Gurdwara President Inderjot Singh told the Orange County Register. "That is our main concern."
On Wednesday, police announced they had opened a hate crimes investigation into the case. "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." Police say they will be increasing patrols near the temple.
According to police, some of the tagging has the markings of a gang based in East Buena Park, and the investigation is complicated because the truck tagged with "F*ck ISIS" and "Islahm" was driven away before police were contacted. The owner is believed to be a Sikh community member from Texas and police are trying to track him down.
"These are hateful slurs often targeted at Sikhs," Sikh Coalition attorney Gurjot Kaur told the L.A. Times. Sikhs are often targeted in anti-Muslim backlash because of their appearance, and this incident comes days after the San Bernardino shooting committed by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik.
"I think mostly because of the turban that we wear and the long beard that we keep, people think we are related to terrorist groups,” Jaspreet Singh, a member of the gurdwara's board, said to the New York Times. "They think the worst because of our beards. They get confused."
In September, a Sikh man was beaten in a suburb outside of Chicago by attackers who called him a "terrorist" and "bin Laden." The most infamous case of anti-Sikh violence was in 2012 when a Neo-Nazi walked into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and shot and killed six people before shooting himself.
Update, 12/11: Buena Park police say they have arrested Brodie Durazo on Wednesday, who admitted to vandalizing the temple and also writing "F*ck ISIS" on a truck parked in its lot. Prosecutors will determine if there is enough evidence against Durazo to file hate crime charges. Similar gang-related markings were also found on a neighboring building, reports the L.A. Times.