Early on Saturday morning, 68-year-old Amrik Singh Bal was attacked by two white males in what police are calling a hate crime. The gruesome attack has sparked a new kind of conversation, aimed at disentangling the fear and hate surrounding the crime. It’s the new hashtag “#WhyWeAreHere,” and it could make a huge difference.
According to Fresno police Sgt. Greg Noll, it all began when Bal was waiting in the early morning fog for a ride to work west of Highway 99. Two white males in their 20s pulled up in their car beside Bal and began throwing obscenities and asking him angrily, “Why are you here?”
Fearing for his safety, Bal attempted to cross the street. It was then that the “two suspects backed up their car, hitting Bal with their back bumper.” Then, as if that weren’t enough, the two suspects got out of their car and began to attack Bal, striking him in the face and upper body.
He suffered multiple abrasions and a broken collarbone.
It is assumed that the two males thought Bal was Muslim, but that does not in any way make the story any less horrific — if anything, it makes it worse.
The Fresno Police Department has decided to investigate the attacks as a hate crime and have offered a 12,000 dollar reward for any information that will lead to the arrests of the two attackers. Noll also added that they will be seeking help from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to solve the case.
"There is always the potential that this is motivated by hate," said Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer in a Fresno Bee video. "Which is why we are investigating it as a hate crime based on the dress of the victim, the fact that this was an unprovoked attack, there does not appear to be any robbery-type motive involved, and he was physically attacked, repeatedly, while they were yelling at him."
In response to this terrible attack, Sikh Americans have taken to Twitter to answer the question “Why are you here?” with stories of love, strength, and empowerment.
The tweets are truly inspiring:
#WhyWeAreHere bc we are the teachers teaching your kids, doctors treating you when you're in need, lawyers helping you when required— Manny (@MsinghD) December 29, 2015
We are here to make the world better #WhyWeAreHere— Taran S. Wasson (@TaranWasson) December 29, 2015
#WhyWeAreHere Because my great-grandparents risked, dared & left loved ones behind to escape persecution & find freedom in the US.— Tamara Cofman Wittes (@tcwittes) December 29, 2015
If you have any information that might help solve this case, call Crime Stoppers at 559-498-7867.
Banner Image Credit: Twitter/The Fresno Bee