About a week ago the Houston Chronicle ran a story about a burglary here in Houston. A Sikh family (the Tagores) came home one night to find that their master bedroom had been ransacked and that a window was broken. They did what anyone would have done: called the police to report the crime. Then the story becomes not so routine:
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations that deputies harassed a family of Sikhs whose home was burglarized last week.
Family members say the deputies handcuffed them, roughed them up and taunted them instead of taking a report on the break-in.
One deputy reportedly asked them if they’d “heard about the bombings in Bombay.” Another allegedly said he had been to Kuwait and “knew about Muslims…”
“The allegations, if they’re true, are certainly intolerable and inconsistent with our policies,” said sheriff’s spokesman John Legg.
The deputies could face anything from disciplinary action to termination, Legg said. He declined to release their names pending further investigation. [Houston Chronicle]
p>This incident occurred on November 26th. On November 27th, a film crew from San Antonio-based Sach Productions was already in Houston to interview the family.
The idea behind the birth of Sach Productions is the creation of an agency that uses the film media to further the Sikh cause. The intention of Sach Productions is to introduce Sikhs to the world and then bring forth issues that concern them.
The initial projects are short documentaries that introduce Sikhs to the Western world. The intention is to then bring issues relating to Punjab, Human Rights, Arts and Culture to the people. [Sach Productions]
By December 5th, as the local news began to pick up on the story, Sach Productions had already filmed and uploaded a documentary about the incident on to the web:
The rapid reaction by Sach Productions is pretty impressive. So thoroughly documenting the story and then making the material available allows us bloggers to do a more effective job of spreading the news and detailing what actions can be taken.
A petition for strong action will soon be delivered to Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Sheriff-Elect Adrian Garcia. It can be viewed and signed here.
We ask that you, Sheriff-elect Garcia and Judge Emmett, promise to ensure that the deputies involved in this incident are disciplined, that the Harris County Sheriff’s office takes decisive steps to put an end to racism and profiling by its officers, and that the Sheriff’s office apologize to the family for the deputies’ behavior. [Petition]
The best way to make your voice heard on this issue is probably to respectfully contact Sheriff-Elect Adrian Garcia directly [hat tip to The Langar Hall for providing digits]:
1730 Jefferson, Suite 214, Houston, Texas 77003
Mailing address: P.O.Box 30066, Houston, Texas 77249-0066
713.652.5902 fax [Link]
If you send an email here the Sikh Coalition will compile questions to Garcia for you: questionforgarcia [at] sikhcoalition.org
Houston has a large South Asian American population and elected officials know that if enough people raise their voice they will be forced to take action out of political necessity.