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At Request of Sikhs, Community Service for Man who Vandalized Temple

by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang /
Reported graffiti at a Sikh gurdwara in Buena Park, California.Courtesy of Buena Park Gurdwara Singh Sabha /

The 21-year-old man who vandalized the Buena Park Gurdwara Singh Sabha — a Sikh house of worship in Orange County, California — last December has been sentenced to three years of probation, 240 hours of graffiti clean-up, and 80 hours of community service at the gurdwara, according to The Sikh Coalition.

"The gurdwara had specifically requested this type of sentencing for Mr. [Brodie] Durazo and we are pleased with the court's decision,” Gurjot Kaur, senior staff attorney of The Sikh Coalition, told NBC News. "The approach and result in this case is consistent with the Sikh ethos. We believe it is much harder to re-offend and harm a person or community once you connect directly with them.”

 Reported graffiti at a Sikh gurdwara in Buena Park, California. Courtesy of Buena Park Gurdwara Singh Sabha

Because the incident happened immediately after the San Bernardino shootings, Sikh-American leaders had been concerned that the incident might have been anti-Muslim retaliation because of Sikh Americans’ turbans and beards, though the Sikh religion originates in the Punjab region of India and Sikhs have been part of the United States for 125 years. Nevertheless, the Sikh American community advocated for restorative justice over harsh punishments.

“From the beginning, the community was not interested in punishing Mr. Durazo,” Kaur said. “Instead, we were deeply invested in educating him and the surrounding community. This, we firmly believe, is the key to combating hate in America."

After being arrested, Durazo, who lives in the area, went to the gurdwara to publicly apologize to the congregation.

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