A young man from Buena Park now faces charges of vandalizing a Sikh temple, which he claims was not meant to be received as hate speech. The man faces felony vandalism of religious property and two misdemeanors on suspicion of vandalism. His defacement caused nearly $400 in damages.
On Dec. 6th, members of the temple were arriving for night services when they found the parking lot walls and a commercial truck sprayed with graffiti as well as a vulgar phrase about the Islamic State group.
To be clear: Sikhism is not affiliated with Islam or the Islamic State.
According to Penal Code Section 594-625c: A person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism:
(1) Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.
1) Also, any person who knowingly commits any act of vandalism to a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, building owned and occupied by a religious educational institution, or other place primarily used as a place of worship where religious services are regularly conducted or a cemetery is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not exceeding one year or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
2) Any person who knowingly commits any act of vandalism to a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, building owned and occupied by a religious educational institution, or other place primarily used as a place of worship where religious services are regularly conducted or a cemetery, which is shown to have been a hate crime and to have been committed for the purpose of intimidating and deterring persons from freely exercising their religious beliefs, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment.
The man was arrested Dec. 9 when detectives compared the temple vandalism to graffiti in a nearby area he admitted to writing earlier in the day.
A few days later, the young man apologized. A video posted on Facebook showed him reading an apology letter in front of the congregation, while wearing a religious head garb.
In the video he stated that, “there isn’t the right amount of words to explain for my actions, but the truth is, it was an idiotic decision I made while intoxicated. I consumed heavy amounts of alcohol that night and made a poor decision to graffiti random locations.”
“I know your guys’ faith and church have nothing to do with the Muslim religion or Islam, that is why I did not write the profanity on your walls or temple. The only reason I wrote what I wrote on the truck was because I was intoxicated and I figured the truck travels through the state and through the country.”
The man faces up to three years in prison.
If you have any questions about vandalism or defacement of property please contact me at 949-474-8008.