A man faces a hate crime charge after Spokane law enforcement officials say he vandalized a Sikh temple and desecrated the temple’s holy book.
According to The Spokesman-Review, Jeffrey C. Pittman, 44, told deputies that he broke into The Sikh Temple of Spokane late Wednesday night looking for something to eat, and then came under the mistaken conclusion that the temple was a mosque connected to ISIS.
Pittman was booked in Spokane County Jail connection with charges of burglary, malicious mischief and malicious harassment, which is the state’s statute for a hate crime.
Pages were ripped from the temple’s holy book and fire extinguishers sprayed all over the temple walls and floors, according to TV station KHQ.
Deputies say that Pittman was arrested early Thursday morning wearing nothing but a sheet taken from the temple’s furnishings and a ceremonial sword.
The Spokane Interfaith Council has established a GoFundMe account to raise $20,000 to repair the damage.
“We have seen an uptick in actions fueled by bigotry and hatred recently, both locally and nationally. These events against the Sikh community are shameful,” the Spokane Interfaith Council posted.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie D. Knezovich also spoke strongly against religious intolerance.
“All religions should be respected. Any crime committed due to someone’s religious beliefs will be a priority and fully investigated,” he said.
Last year in Spokane, the FBI investigated anti-Muslim graffiti sprayed on the East Spokane Community Center’s wall while members of the Bosnia Herzegovina Heritage Association observed Ramadan inside.
A member of the temple told reporters while they were hurt by the vandalism, they felt sympathy towards the man and offered Pittman chai tea after his arrest.
The Spokesman-Review: Spokane’s Sikh Temple vandalized, holy book desecrated
GoFundMe: Our Sikh Neighbors