UPDATE, DEC. 10, 3:40 P.M.: Brodie Durazo, 20, of Buena Park, has been arrested for the vandalism at Gurdwara Singh Sabha and a neighboring residence, according to police. On Friday, before responding to the vandalism report at the temple, officers were called to a home in the same 7100 block of Orangethorpe Avenue about a similar complaint about graffiti, reads a Buena Park Police Department statement. Officers spoke with a suspect at that time, identified as Durazo, who allegedly confessed to the residential vandalism, police say. “The reporting party did not desire prosecution with the agreement that the suspect would clean the graffiti,” reads the statement. In light of the same type of “gang-style graffiti” at the neighboring temple, detectives spoke with Durazo on Wednesday, and he admitted “he had committed the vandalism on both the temple property and the tractor trailer when he committed the vandalism next door,” state police. He was arrested on suspicion of vandalism at a place of worship, and the case was forwarded to the Orange County District Attorney’s office for review for possible additional violations, police say. “The Buena Park Police Department understands the sensitive nature of crimes like this and is providing extra police patrols and attention to the Sikh Temple, out of an abundance of caution,” reads the statement.
Gang watchers and Anaheim Police officials agree that when it comes to the gang graffiti, “SSBP” refers to South Side Barrio Pobre, a neighborhood off Laxore Street near Beach Boulevard, “AHM” is AnaHeiM and the three dots with two lines reference the Mayan numeral for 13.
Meanwhile, the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) in Anaheim today expressed solidarity with the Sikh community following an apparently bias-motivated attack on local Gurdwaras, noting that besides the Buena Park temple another in Los Angeles was vandalized on Sunday. “We stand in solidarity with the Sikh community and against the actions of a tiny minority of bigots who violate our nation’s longstanding principles of religious tolerance and inclusion,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. “As we have stated many times, an attack on any house of worship is an attack on all houses of worship.” Ayloush added that CAIR has spoken out a number of times against bias-motivated attacks on American Sikhs—while also recently calling on local and national law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for similar acts of vandalism targeting mosques nationwide.
UPDATE, DEC. 10, 10:05 A.M.: The Sikh Coalition provided the Weekly with images of the vandalism at Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Buena Park, and a Weekly contributor shot follow-up pictures at the temple.
ORIGINAL POST, DEC. 10, 6 A.M.: A Sikh temple in Buena Park was vandalized by someone who apparently thought it was a Muslim house of worship, and the facility's leader is demanding the incident be investigated as a hate crime.
”The Gurdwara [Singh Sabha] was vandalized during Sunday early hours, and a hateful graffiti was seen on the walls of the Gurdwara and also a truck parked in the parking lot. The graffiti included the phrase, “F@#k ISIS,” and the words “Islam” and other reference of gangs,” says the Washington-based Sikh Council on Religion and Education in a statement.
“We are of the opinion that this is a hate crime and that this is a direct result of a possible backlash from the San Bernardino killings,” Inderjot Singh, president of the gurdwara, told India West, referencing the Dec. 2 massacre of 14 people, allegedly by ISIS supporters.
A quick primer for haters or those who skipped comparative religion: Sikhism is a monotheistic dharma which originated during the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. Its followers, known as Sikhs, rarely seeks converts. Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion that originated during the seventh century in what is now Saudi Arabia. Its followers, known as Muslims, do seek converts. The confusion likely stems from the facts some Sikhs and Muslim men wear turbans.
These days, especially after terror attacks linked to Muslim radicals, Sikhs get mistaken for followers of Islam, at times to violent ends. That is what concerns some of the 800 local Sikhs whose weekly place of worship at 7122 Orangethorpe Ave., Buena Park, was vandalized.
”The Sikh community across the nation is in a heightened state of alert and is deeply troubled by this latest incident,” says the Sikh Council's Rajwant Singh in an India.com report. “We are appealing to all Sikh place(s) of congregation to be in touch with the local law enforcement agencies as well with the elected officials.”
The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly investigating the Buena Park incident alongside local police. Inderjot Singh says he and his temple members are grateful for that, but he and the Sikh Coalition's senior staff attorney Gurjot Kaur called for a local and national hate crime investigation, with Kaur adding extra law enforcement personnel must protect the gurdwara as well.
“I believe this crime must be investigated as a hate crime to ensure that we do not ignore the patterns of intolerance and violence that Sikhs and other minority communities continue to face,” Singh said, adding, “We are concerned about the safety and security of our community members.”
He says this is the first hate crime incident at the temple in 32 years.
Rajwant Singh expressed concern that more such incidents may be coming in light of recent anti-Muslim rhetoric made by some of American presidential candidates.
”This will directly result in elevated level of violence against minority religions in America and particularly the Sikhs,” Singh predicts. “We are fearful that this kind of hate speech against Muslims with engulf Sikhs and members of the Muslim community across the nation.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.