Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harris County Police Harassed Sikh Family

It was Wednesday night November 26th 2008, a day before Thanksgiving when we called the police to report a burglary that took place at our house. Only to be harassed by the very police we called in. This has got to stop! We can't take it anymore.

The misbehavior by Harris County police officers towards my family when only hours before our own home was burglarized in Houston is appalling. The officers' behavior sent a loud message to Sikhs and Muslims that we are second class citizens.


At the beginning of the Thanksgiving weekend, we came home to find a window broken and master bedroom ransacked. When we called 911 to report the crime, Harris County Sheriff's police officers were dispatched to investigate. But instead of pursuing the thieves, the police officers began grilling us. Officers ordered my sister Ms. Kawaljeet Kaur to hand over her kirpan -- a religious article mandated by the Sikh faith -- which she wore over her shoulder. Ms. Kaur offered to leave the room if her kirpan made the officers uncomfortable, but to no avail.

Instead, she, along with me, my mother and cousin, were handcuffed and led into the street. Officers verbally abused us as they searched. An officer applied pressure to my sister's back as she sat on the ground. One officer asked us whether we had "heard about the bombings in Bombay" while another told them that he "knew about Muslims". Why were these comments made by the police??

Hours later, we were released without being arrested or charged.

"How can the police stop us from practicing our religion in our own home?" asked Ms. Kaur. "We called the police to help us. Instead, they humiliated and harassed us. They handcuffed my 60-year-old mother in front of my 8-year-old niece. They think they can get away with it because we look different."

"What happened at the Tagore home was shameful," said Amardeep Singh, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition. "Through a combination of violence, racial prejudice and intimidation, the Harris County police turned innocent victims into perpetrators."

We ask the Harris County to terminate four police officers involved in the incident and issue a formal apology to us while ensuring proper training is provided to all police personnel.

23 comments:

princeofpunjab said...

want to express my shock about this situation and also disgust on the treatment of law abiding citizens of this country. I just visited the Harris county sheriff's website, and watched the sheriff talk about how he demands everyone respect citizens. Apparently he is unaware that his training is falling on deaf ears.

Kudos to Kawaljeet and Ramandeep who stayed calm with dignity and did not lose their temper towards the cops. This really shows true Sikh character that even faced with such hate they remained steadfast. I think a peaceful protest by the Sikh community outside the Sheriffs office is truly warranted, this video should be sent via email to the sheriff as well so he can investigate and take proper educational action.

Unfortunately someone always has to suffer for change to be made, destiny usually chooses those souls who have the courage to stand up for what they believe so that others who would not be able to face this type of adversity don't have to. The main thing is besides the hate and inhumane treatment of these individuals, that the end result is positive change and education. Hopefully if this incident is not forgotten and brought to the proper visibility, future incidents like this can be avoided.

Kudos to Ramandeep, Kawaljeet and the Sach Production team for documenting this so vividly.

Chardi Kala

Harmeet

Jkaur said...

This is shocking and disappointing, and unlike what you expect to happen in America. This goes to show how police officers are affected by the media and are not trained to evaluate the situation they are in. Instead, they just use racial and religious profiling to determine their actions. This is why there are so many African-Americans and Latin Americans that don't trust the police to serve and protect.

Great job in documenting what happened, this event should not go unnoticed!

jssingh said...

Barbaric! These kind of crimes can only find meaning in the pre-modern era. In today's world, no matter which country it might be, they stand on weak feet. The officer(s) need a huge correction in their behavior, such atrocities will not be tolerated. Please do you part in calling the appropriate people in the sheriff's office and beyond to make sure it doesnt go unnoticed.

May good bless Ramandeep's family with Chardi Kala. Thanks for all your efforts in bringing this to light.

Anonymous said...

Seeing how this happened in texas, Im kind of not surprised. I am disappointed and sad that this happened. Something like this would never happen in Canada.

Anonymous said...

What century are we living in? Don't these police officers watch television? Don't they know that Manmohan Singh (the prime minister of India ) wears a turban? So, does that mean that every person that wears a turban living in America is going to be considered a terrorist? Shame on these people for handcuffing a 60 year old woman! and mistreating his sister. If you can't trust the protectors of the society then where do you go? It seems like we as society are going backward rather than moving forward. Lets educate these people so that this will never happen again to anyone!

Mai said...

This is disgusting, more what I would expect of the Punjabi cops.

I do have a question. I am posting about your blog on my blog, The Road To Khalistan, http://roadtokhalistan.blogspot.com/.

If you really want Sikhs to report on your blog about police brutality, they need some way to contact you about that. You will get some publicity on my little blog, and I think you should post on IHRO (International Human Rights Organisation). I would be happy to help, if you contact me at Simayanan@gmail.com.

As a survivor of Blue Star in Amritsar and the Delhi Pogrom, 1984, I know something personally of brutality, Indian style. In addition, I have several posts about American injustice, as well - including yours, now.

Best of luck. This blog could blossom into a valuable sewa.

Chardi kala!

Mai Harinder Kaur

Anonymous said...

It's clear this department needs training on who Sikhs are and in general cultural sensitivity training. I hope something good comes out of this. I am surprised since Houston has a good size Sikh population thats been living in Houston for a long time. Sikhs in Houston need to make efforts to reach out to the mainstream community and educate them the Sikh faith starting with the Sheriffs department.

taranjs said...

No doubt, these ignorant people need to learn a lot more.. Waheguru mehar karan.. Who/which organization is taking this issue forward?

Taranjeet Singh
Delhi, India

Anonymous said...

Justice! Need to voice it as loud as possible, so that every police department hear it loud and clear that Sikhs are not going to tolerate such treatment especially from officers who have a duty to protect the innocents. This is abuse of power of position; just because they are the law they can abuse their power!
Time to act....Sikh Coalitio, fellow Sikhs ........
Pkaur

nav aman deep said...

I am totally shocked. I hope some action is taken fast against these tortures.

Manpreet said...

This is so bad that to this date in year 2008, Americans are not accepting sikhs as part of their own country.

It may be our lack to make them knwoledgeable about sikhs. Muslims drive them crazy and sikhs are soft targets.

Sache patshah, merha rakhi...

Anonymous said...

We Sikhs have to take action, each and every one of us, we cannot depend on organizations to do everything for us.

Anonymous said...

The Family needs our full support at this inhuman treatment by the custodians of law and order who get paid from the public's coffers. Shame on this foolish bunch of police that has no sense of human dignity. Some one responsible to oversee the police behaviour must reprimand these police individuals and launch an educational project to sensitize them about people they are supposed to protect.
Harkinder Singh
London Canada

Sharoon said...

This is a gross 4th amendment violation.

Anonymous said...

It is barbarous. Those officers ahould be punished. My request will be to go to next City council meeting & during the public comment time (normally it is at the begining or end) soeak up & point out the names of Police officers involved in this maltreatment. Ask city council that all Police officers must know, who are Sikhs & must show respect. They (Police officers) are being paid by your taxes. Take with you some good literature on Sikhism & distirbute it to all. Also some flyers to distirbute to all about Police mispbehaviour.

Manmeet said...

We as Sikhs need to come together, especially those of us residing in the Houston area. As unfortunate as this is, it is our duty to get justice served and prevent this from happening again. We should not be afraid of calling 911.

Religious profiling in the United States needs to be stopped. Please take the time out of your schedule to call the authorities in the Houston area.

I got a call from Harris County Sheriff-Elect, Adrian Garcia the other day, who responded to the email that I sent him voicing my concerns with this situation. To my understanding, he should be at Sikh Center this Sunday to speak to the Gurdwara. I will pass along any information as I get it.

Phillip said...

This is just so very strange--I can't believe these policemen could be so stupid and brutish. Has the police department made any statement?

Not surprising to see this happening in Texas, where everyone acts like the police are saints and never really question them . . .

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about the brutal treatment Ramandeep and his family received. I work with Ramandeep and know he is a kind and peaceful soul. It is shameful for the police to act in such a manner.

Anonymous said...

I emailed judge emett, was polite and let know this was unjust and something must be done.

I know many sikhs are calling for them to fired, but I rather have the court force them to do 1yr (or a few) community service at the sikh gurdwaras in the houston and surrounding area, plus other punishments.

Forgiveness is love, love is god.

Lets hope this gets corrected but it up to everyone to do their part and sign the petition or email the sheriff or judge in that county and POLITELY get your point across without anger, but with calmness. I

kingbasr said...

wow... the other comments have more on watz to b said
but stillz i cant beleve thiz is still happnin in r time,, goreh sareh sadheh magar ondeh, haran sareh... otherz go after us cuz of out turbans n we stand out more cuz of watz been happnin with middle east n other 'brown' countries or ppl. sikhs r bein punishd for muslims, afganeez, pakistanz .. we r bein punishd cuz our religion,, we stand out diffrently n cuz were brwn...
rlly disapointin

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Anonymous said...

So much of anger, distress and helplessness has been felt by the Sikh community around the world but no one has bothered to check as to what the other side had to say about this. This is America and things do not happen the way they happen in India or any other Banana Republic.

Ramandeep Tagore and his sister Kawaljeet are masking few facts that were crucial to their time in lock up and being handcuffed. In my opinion they were surely informed as to why they were being handcuffed and put through the ordeal.

If you watch the interview of Ramandeep on sach Productions, he is deliberately dragging Muslim community in to this to seek a wider support for his ordeal.

Young Tagores, brother and sister, must have smart mouthed the officers of law and their dagger (Kirpan) became an issue where the officers wanted them to relinquish Kirpans as they must have felt threatened. Remember that there was only one cop who arrived first but it snowballed to four in total? Why four guys? Surely Tagores escalated the incident to a situation where they had to be handcuffed and taken to the lock up.

Its all about ego and stupid honor Tagores want to defend. I also live in the US but have never seen anything like this where an innocent old woman was also dragged to a cop house?

Wake up people, you all have to live and work in the US and if you continue on this path then you will suffer. Know the country you live in - its the arsenal of democracy and you all at best can be termed as the people born with flawed democratic values. You just have to see this case differently and your healing shall start immediately.

Anonymous said...

I SEE A LOT OF STUPID SIKHS IN THIS PLACE. LET ME TELL YOU 'AMERICAN-SIKHS' SOMETHING. I COME TO USA AT A YOUNG AGE, I SURVIVED BLUESTAR FIVE YEARS BEFORE I CAME TO USA, AND HAVE ALWAYS CONSIDERED MYSELF INDIAN FIRST.

AMERICAN CULTURE IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH SIKHISM. AMERICAN CULTURE IS ABOUT CAPITALISM AND EXTORTING AS MUCH OUT OF LABOUR AS IS POSSIBLE. MANY SIKHS IN USA ACT LIKE THIS CULTURE IS COMPATIBLE WITH OURS BECAUSE THEY ONLY WANT TO MAKE MONEY.

ANY CULTURE THAT GIVES TOTALLY EQUAL RIGHTS TO WOMEN LIKE HOW AMERICA DOES, IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH SIKHISM. I SEE WOMEN IN USA HALF-CLOTHED, DRIVING 5 TIMES AS EXPENSIVE CARS AS THE MEN HERE, THEY ARE RUDE AND EVEN CRAZIER THAN THE ALREADY CRAZY WHITE MAN.

YOU SIKHS BETTER STRAIGHTEN UP AND SEE AMERICA FOR WHAT IT IS -- AN ILLOGICAL FEMINIST SOCIETY THAT ONLY PROMOTES WOMAN WORSHIP AND HEDONISM. THESE ANIMALS HAVE 5 OR 10 PARTNERS BEFORE MARRIAGE. YET YOU "SIKHS" CLAIM OUR RELIGION IS COMPATIBLE WITH AMERICA?

TUSEE BINAA SOCH, JAANKAARI BAIGAAR SAAREH KAMM KARRAHE HO HUUN. SARDARAA NUU IKHATTA HOKEH KEHNAAH CHEHIDAH HAI KEH SIKHI AUR USA BILKUL MILDE-JULDE NEHI HUUN!

SAT SRI AKAL!