Two men were convicted to three-year-prison terms for attacking a Sikh man in Northern California and admitting to hate crimes.
Colton Leblanc & Chase Little on Thursday each pleaded no contest to assault with a hate crime enhancement.
Maan Singh Khalsa was dressed in traditional Sikh clothes driving to a religious ceremony in Richmond, California, in September when someone in a pickup truck threw a half-full beer can at his car. Leblanc and Little then jumped out the truck & punched Khalsa numerous times through an open window.
They knocked off his turban and cut Khalsa’s hair with a knife. The Sikh religion considers unshorn hair sacred.
The assault happened in Richmond, which is 18 miles (29 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.
“The recognition of the attack as a hate crime – as harm to my dignity and my entire community – is the first step in the process,” Khalsa told in a statement issued by The Sikh Coalition, a rights group in the United States. “I still consider you my brothers, and I hope that you will learn about me and my community, and one day consider me your brother, too.”
The decision was hailed by Contra Costa county Deputy District Attorney Simon O’Connell, who told. “The attack upon Khalsa based upon his perceived religion and identity is an attack on us all. As a community, we must do better and it is my hope that today’s sentence moves us further in that direction.”