Panthic

Gurdwara near LA vandalized in wake of nearby shootings

Evidence drove off
By Anju Kaur | December 10, 2015
Where is this truck?

Where is this truck?

A Los Angeles-area gurdwara was vandalized with graffiti last weekend in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings a few days earlier by a Muslim couple, but a crucial piece of the evidence drove off before police arrived. 

Sometime Saturday night, Nov. 5, or early the next morning, the walls of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Sikh Temple parking lot were spray painted with graffiti, including a derogatory reference to ISIS on a semitractor-trailer truck parked inside. 
 
Members of the sangat noticed the graffiti Sunday morning, but the gurdwara management did not see it until evening, said Inderjot Singh, president of the gurdwara. They called the Buena Park Police Department. 
 
The truck driver was a visitor from Texas, Inderjot Singh said. He had left by the time the police arrived. Officers examined the walls but they could only view the truck vandalism through pictures.
 
“Common sense dictates it is the same person(s),” said Cpl. Bret Carter, press officer of the police department. But it will be more difficult to label this a hate crime when the only evidence of hate speech is gone. 
 
“Is this a hate crime?” Carter said. “We can’t make a determination.”
 
The gang-style graffiti, known as “tagging,” resembled traditional markings made by Southern California’s Hispanic gangs, he told SFP.
 
“SSBPX31ST AHM ****ISIS”
 
The first part identifies the gang, the second part identifies the city and the last part is its message. This incident involves two investigations. One is a gang investigation involving the graffiti on the wall. The other investigation involves locating the truck driver. The message is of the greatest concern, Carter said. 
 
“The investigation will determine what the intent was.”
 
Graffiti on the walls of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, Buena Park, California.
 
The police department has assigned officers at the gurdwara during yesterday’s and Saturday’s divaans, and extra patrols in the vicinity.
 
“We want everyone to feel safe,” Carter added.
 
“We’re not afraid, just worried about elderly people who come during early in the morning or late at night,” Inderjot Singh said. And there is always the concern that some mad guy can come and shoot people. 
 
“But we are not scared that will stop coming to the gurdwara.” 
 
The gurdwara is located on the main road in Buena Park. It has nearly 2,000 sangat members, with about 200 Khalsa School students. Langar is prepared for 1,200 people every Sunday. The incident was the first act of vandalism the gurdwara has experienced in its 32 years.
 
The hateful act is likely a reaction to the Nov. 2 shooting in San Bernardino in which 14 were killed and 21 were injured. The shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the FBI said. Both were killed in a police shoot out.
 
The alleged backlash at the gurdwara is an isolated incident, Carter added. There has been no other incident in the area against Muslims or those perceive to be Muslim.
 
Rajwant Singh, president of the Maryland-based Sikh Council on Religion and Education reached out to the White House, which directed the Department of Homeland Security to investigate, Inderjot Singh said.