Taxi Cab

The UK Police correct their actions following an incident where a Sikh man’s turban was burned by a woman in a racially charged attack.

In September 2013, a group of 5 drunken women hailed a taxi near Bristol. They lived 40 miles out, in Swindon, UK, and soon realized they didn’t have enough money to pay the entire cab fare.

They demanded a free ride, and when it was denied and they were asked to leave the cab, they refused. In their anger, they lashed out, attacking the Sikh driver and racially abusing him before they snatched his turban and set it ablaze. One of the five women admitted to the hate crime and was let off with a warning, while the other 4 women were released.

Living in Fear: Hate Crimes Hurt Everyone

The victim of the hate crime, who does not wish to be identified, has stated that the “incident in September last year had [him] scared to leave the house, but [he] still needed to work to support his family.” According to one close family friend, his entire family has been afraid ever since. “His wife is scared to let him out of the house for work in case it happens again… he always had high regard for the police, and the law, but he’s now lost his confidence in the police and the system.” He wants to make things improve for everyone.

In collaboration with Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI), an 8-month campaign was held in Bristol. They demanded the police make things right, including apologizing for not taking the crime seriously, in regards to the occurrence of that night. Alex Raikes, the Interim director of SARI, said that “[The police] didn’t appreciate that it is like an attack on a person, for a Sikh it is very similar to a serious sexual offence, it is horrendous, it’s a massive impact.”

The Crime Finally Reached Courts November 2014

The Avon and Somerset Constabulary formally apologized for the incident. The woman who was given a mere caution had her caution revoked, and instead was taken to court and fined 200 pounds. Chief Superintendent Jon Reilly said that “[he] is always disappointed to hear that [they] haven’t got things quite right. [They] made 2 arrests on the evening [of the attack]. Because one of the girls admitted it, the detective decided a caution was enough but that decision was wrong.” The officers stress that the situation should have been taken straight to the courts, and are working hard to make it easier to report hate crimes.

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