America has always represented hope for a better life to people around the world, but for some new Americans, that dream can become a nightmare.

Satender Singh was attacked on July 1 in an apparent hate crime at Lake Natoma and removed from life-support four days later. Singh came to this country of freedom in peace and with a desire to build his life. But tragically his new life ended just as it was beginning. He died because a group of people expressed their hatred and their bigotry in the way most bigotry eventually expresses itself, through violence.

The murder of Singh, and the reaction to the death of the 26-year-old immigrant from Fiji, showed the worst and best of the Sacramento community in one stroke.

The worst is obvious — once again, a young person was tragically murdered by someone who apparently thought he was gay. Reports are that homophobic epithets preceded the violence and Singh’s death. This kind of hate crime is so vile and heinous that words fail to capture the lack of humanity in such an act. Authorities should work double-time, publicly and behind the scenes, to find the killers.

That Singh’s death came at the hand — allegedly — of some people of Slavic descent is particularly troubling. Increasingly, a growing segment of radical fundamentalists in that religious community have targeted the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities and other minorities with despicable hate speech that debases our residents and raises the threat of violence. Tragically now, the threats of violence have become reality, as manifested in this murder. The first amendment to our nation’s Constitution protects speech, but our community has the right to expect that the exercise of free speech will respect the dignity of all people who live here and not instigate violence or murder.

This tragedy, however, has demonstrated that people of peace and goodwill far outnumber those who express hate. There are brave souls within the moderate Slavic community who have spoken out against the violence. Recently, many diverse groups in the Sacramento region rallied to the cause of creating a Sacramento we all envision — where every person is accepted and loved for who they are. Community leaders from CAPITAL, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center, Stonewall Democrats, the Capital Unity Center, the Slavic Assistance Center, just to name a few, have been instrumental in forming an alliance against hate in Sacramento.


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