Police Held This Sikh Family At Gunpoint Because Their Tire Popped

Police Held This Sikh Family At Gunpoint Because Their Tire Popped

Members of every religion deserve respect, even when under police investigation.

After receiving a report of the sound of a firearm being discharged from an orange BMW, Hitchin police arrived at the home of Sukhi Rayat and his family to investigate. Rayat and his 17-year-old son were handcuffed, held at gunpoint, searched, and had their home raided. What police perceived and treated as a threat of illegal firearm possession turned out to be nothing at all. They surmised that the sound the caller described as that of a gunshot emitted from the tire puncture the vehicle had encountered. The trauma that the Rayat family encountered was for naught.

In a post-9/11 world, Sikhs have frequently faced these situations. Though the FBI only began tracking attacks targeting them in 2015, the evidence of misguided and racial bias against them is countless. Since the attacks in Manchester and Barcelona, it seems that the bias is inescapable and increasingly systematized.

Rayat stated that “People are on edge at the moment. I get that and I totally get what the police have done. But this just shows people have a real lack of understanding about who’s who.”

The family was deeply upset about the nature of the raid, particularly given that police officers ignored their requests to remove their shoes before entering their prayer room, where their religious texts and items were stored. Rayat also posits, “We made our feelings known about the disrespect with the shoes. I asked what sort of training they go through – that should be basic. You should understand people’s religious beliefs.”

In the days following the raid, Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley visited the family to apologize for the disrespect demonstrated unto their religion, and for the ordeal, but her narrative reflects a priority for her duty above all else.

Wheatley states that “...you can imagine, in the current climate – we’ve just had the awful events in Barcelona – if we get reports like this involving firearms, we’re duty-bound to act. And I think the public would be up in arms if we didn’t.” She continues, “We’ve got to manage the risk and the threat there could be to public safety, and that’s our main concern. I think I speak for all the public when I say we cannot take any risks.”

She denies that her officers were requested to remove their shoes prior to entering the prayer room, but the Rayat family collectively confirms that they did. She does not disqualify their claim, but still defends the actions of her team, arguing that a search of that manner must be conducted quickly. She states, “We at the police are always keen to learn. We’re trained about different cultural issues and religions, but it’s all different when you’re in a firearms quick-time operation.”

Disregarding general courtesy according to the gravity of an operation seems debatable, particularly when the gravity is ultimately null. The apology the police have issued does little to alter the reality of the situation so much as it does the narrative. Wheatley describes risk as something applicable to the citizens of Hitchin.

Are the Rayats not also put at risk when disrespected and unnecessarily searched?

Cover Image Credit: G / Twitter

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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A thought on what happens after life.


It's an infinite loop intertwined with life that all humans have to deal with.

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Death, it is the blackened stumps of the wildlife caught in the worst of fires.

Yet, it can be beautiful.

Most wouldn't think so, probably have never put "death" and "beautiful" together in the same sentence, let alone even in the same paragraph.

But death is beautiful.

It can be like the last whisper of a fall breeze before winter sets in.

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It's like taking the hand of the partner you've decided to live with, even after fighting with them.

It's the hand you use to stroke the head of kittens, and the hand you use to scratch puppies tummies.

It's the hand that gives, but it is also the hand that takes away.

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