HomeCrimeSikh Man Arrested for Carrying Religious Knife

Sikh Man Arrested for Carrying Religious Knife

Harpreet Singh Khalsa

33-year-old Harpreet Singh Khalsa was arrested Monday outside a grocery store in Catonsville, Baltimore for carrying his kirpan, a small dagger worn by Sikhs as a religious symbol.

Khalsa, born Justin Smith, converted to Sikhism 9 years ago and has worn his kirpan every day since. All followers of the Sikh religion are required to wear the five articles of faith, one including the kirpan. Police arrived after a citizen called 911 to alert authorities.

According to Khalsa, this is not the first time he has been stopped by the police because of his kirpan. Khalsa told the Baltimore Sun that he explained to the police that the knife was part of his religion but they frisked him, confiscated his kirpan, and took him into custody.

Khalsa was released without any charges when the police confirmed that the knife was part of his religion and not dangerous.

Baltimore County Officer Jennifer Peach said that they are working to educate local law enforcement on Sikh culture, however, the officer followed proper protocol in the situation.

“The officer did follow all Maryland and county laws properly in this incident,” Peach said. “There is no known exception to the deadly weapons laws at this time.”

For Khalsa, the kirpan has significant meaning.

“We don’t consider it a knife, but a visual reminder to stand up to justice,” Khalsa said.

Rachael Bereson Lachow, a witness to the arrest, video-taped the incident and posted a 54-second video to her Facebook page. The video has 1.6 million shares and hundreds of comments.

Lachow said the police officers escorted him from the grocery store and told him to not touch his kirpan until they took it from him.

According to the Huffington Post India, the arrest happen at the same time Vice President Mike Pence was praising the contributions of Sikhs in America while talking to a group in Indianapolis.

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1 COMMENT

  1. RE: Sikh man arrested for carrying religious Knife: In America you can carry a gun but can’t carry a knife?

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