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US-Based Sikh Man Who Faced Racial Slurs & 'Biased' Probe Finally Gets Justice

Rouble Claire, a retired Sikh man based in California, was allegedly subjected to racial slurs & threats by 2 women.

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South Asians
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Hindi Female
Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad

"F**king Hindu, sand n*gger."

These were the racial slurs hurled at Rouble Claire, a 66-year-old Sikh man who has been living in California's Sutter County for decades.

In May 2021, Claire was racially abused by a woman at a local grocery store called South Butte Market. The woman, identified as Sarah Hollis, was his neighbour and had falsely accused him of killing her dog with his vehicle, The Sacramento Bee reported Claire as saying.

Not only did the woman accost him, she also tried to "ram" him over with her car – speeding towards him and swerving only at the last minute.

The horror for Claire, however, had not yet ended.

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Later that day, he encountered another racist incident when an individual purportedly connected to the same woman wrote the word "Sand n*gger in chalk on the road outside his house and on his driveway. When he went outside to confront the woman, he was once again called a "n*gger."

Rouble Claire, a retired Sikh man based in California, was allegedly subjected to racial slurs & threats by 2 women.

Expletives written in chalk outside Rouble Claire's house in Sutter County. 

(Photo: The Sikh Coalition)

A 'Biased' Probe

After the first incident, Claire immediately went inside the store and asked an employee to call the police. However, they did not respond to the scene.

While they did respond to the second incident, Claire alleged that one of the officers, named Vishaal Virk, used his own bottle to pour water on the racial slur written outside his house without taking a picture. The other officer, Earl Manion, asked him not to drive on his own street to avoid confrontation.

When he asked them to investigate further, the police refused to reopen the case for several months, until an NGO called 'The Sikh Coalition' got involved.

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Under pressure from the NGO, the police finally reopened the investigation after months and recommended charges against the woman involved in the incident. However, the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office refused to bring the charges, citing a nearly six-month delay between the incident and the charges.

Claire, represented by his lawyers, then brought a case against the police in May 2022, alleging that their misconduct caused initial delays in the case. He also filed a case against Sutter County itself as well as the woman who abused him at the market.

Further, Claire's lawyers discovered that Sutter County had not followed state laws with regard to the police's hate crime policy.

"I have been subject to threats, harassment, and racial slurs – yet almost a full year later, no one has been held accountable," Claire had said in a statement in May last year.

"For months, after immediately reporting these hateful acts, I sat in silence waiting for action that never came. I did not want to have to take legal action against anyone, but I believe that this failure of justice is unacceptable: no one in our community should have to face this kind of hate and bigotry."
Rouble Claire
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Claire Awarded $25,000 for Police's Inaction

In response to the charges, a court finally ruled in late January this year against the two errant police deputies and Sutter County, saying that they had violated the rights of the Sikh man. Claire was also awarded $25,000 plus legal fees.

"This judgment reflects the unavoidable fact that Sutter County’s institutions failed our client," one of Claire's lawyers said. "No one should have to experience hateful words or conduct – nor should they go months without an adequate investigation or have their legitimate concerns belittled and ignored when the safety of them and their family is at risk."

Meanwhile, court records stated that Hollis and Claire had agreed to handle the issue outside the court using the voluntary dispute resolution programme, according to The Sacramento Bee.

After the judgment was passed in his favour, Claire said in a statement on Monday, 30 January:

"This is a step forward for my own peace of mind – but more importantly, it will hopefully help to ensure that nothing like my experience ever happens to anyone in Sutter County again. It is the responsibility of our law enforcement officials to take all crimes and threats seriously, and accountability is essential when they do not live up to that standard."
Rouble Claire

Meanwhile, the Sikh Coalition has been attempting to get criminal charges brought against the perpetrators in the case – including criminal threats, assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and hate crime.

While the NGO did not legally represent Claire, they urged the Sheriff’s Office and Sutter County’s district attorney to take action on the allegations.

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The case comes in the backdrop of an alarming increase in hate crimes in the United States against Sikhs and other Indian Americans.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, anti-Sikh hate crimes increased by 140 percent – from 89 to 214 – between 2020 and 2021: the highest ever since the FBI began maintaining a record of such incidents.

(With inputs from The Sacramento Bee.)

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