Sikhs call for national hate crime task force after Kent shooting | KUOW News and Information

Sikhs call for national hate crime task force after Kent shooting

Mar 6, 2017

The shooting of a Sikh man in Kent is prompting calls for the Trump administration to create a special hate crime task force.

The FBI said Monday that a civil rights investigation has been launched in conjunction with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Deep Rai told police he was just working on his car in his driveway on Friday night when a masked man approached him. He said the man told him "go back to your country" then shot him in the arm.

“Deep remembers that he fell down on the floor, and he blacked out," Jasmit Singh is a spokesperson for Deep Rai and his family.

"He felt that it was primarily because he was wearing a turban. He has a beard. He was visible as somebody who doesn't look like the normal definition of an American."

Singh says in 2017 Sikhs in Washington have seen a big increase in hate speech and hate crimes.

And he thinks the problem starts at the top. 

"I do want to hear a stronger message from President Trump against hate. I do want him to create a task force that can deal with this, because clearly we have a problem."

The Sikh Coalition, a national organization, also called on Trump to act.

Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said over the weekend that investigators believe the victim’s account.

“This is a top priority investigation, and we are doing everything possible to identify and arrest the suspect," Thomas said in an email, The Associated Press reported.

Ayn Dietrich, an FBI spokesperson based in Seattle, said the agency “remains committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate motivated."