A New Sheriff In Houston – Better for Sikhs?

A couple of weeks ago TLH reported on an incident involving the Tagore family in Houston who suffered what can quite easily be classified as police brutality after having called for help. The family called nine-one-one after finding out that their home had been burglarized, but when the Sheriffs arrived, instead of viewing and treating the family as victims of a crime (which was more than apparent from the fact that the Sikh family called the police for help) – the Sheriffs viewed and treated them as outsiders and criminals – seeing only their Guru given turbans and kirpans.

As a sign that things maychange- there have been reports that the new Sheriff-elect, Adrian Garcia, has pledged:

I will be offering just a good ear…I think that this is one of those roles that an elected official serves. We’ve got to always be ready to listen to any segment of the community when there’s concern and understand it.

He also made a visit to a Gurdwara and:

[P]romised to expand the department’s cultural diversity training, to help personnel better understand the diversity of the county. “I think it starts with leadership,” he said, “and that’s why I’m making myself available.” [Source]

It is encouraging to hear that the Sheriff will be listen to the community and that more diversitytrainingwill be take place. Still, despite good intentionsand diversity training, I think people often see what they want to see – and miss the point. The dozen-plus deputies that mistreated the Tagores had gone through diversity training and were presumably familiar with proper protocol when dealing with “diversity” – like asking questions and being respectful. The incident highlights how in many ways our community is still viewed with suspicion and itshard for me to imagine that the kirpan was even the issue. Granted, the diversity training that the deputies went through did not specifically cover Sikhs, but does that matter? Does diversity training have to include explicit instruction as to every possible minority group to be effective? I don’t think so.

Sheriff-elect Garcia has offered a more positive outlook than the current Sheriff, Tommy Thomas, who has yet to respond to a letter sent by the Sikh Coalition and has made no public statements about the incident. But, lets not forget that it is up to ensure that our voice is heard- we encourage all of you to take action. You can start by signing a the Sikh Coalition’spetition and can go to Phulkari’s post for more ways to effect change.


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4 Responses to “A New Sheriff In Houston – Better for Sikhs?”

  1. Raja says:

    Is there any word on if there was action taken against those two cops?

  2. Raja says:

    Is there any word on if there was action taken against those two cops?

  3. Singh says:

    As far as I know, at the moment the Sheriff's department is still investigating the incident – so no word yet.

  4. Singh says:

    As far as I know, at the moment the Sheriff’s department is still investigating the incident – so no word yet.