Washington D.C: With the utmost gratitude, UNITED SIKHS thanks Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) for his efforts to encourage the Department of Justice and FBI to begin tracking and quantifying hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu, and Arab Americans. To date, the FBI has not collected and tracked hate crimes against these communities, despite serious hate crimes committed against community members especially post 9/11, including: attacks on Sikh owned businesses, murder, “Go back to your country” and “terrorist” shouted and even sprayed on property, a Sikh boy’s turban set on fire while he sat in his classroom, an elderly Sikh man gunned down in California, the massacre at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the brutal attack of a Sikh elderly-man just last month in Fresno, and the list goes on.
UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney, Manmeet Singh enthusiastically said, “This is a great step in the right direction. By doing so, the FBI’s advisory board has sent a message that this country cares for Sikhs. The addition of this new category will provide the requisite statistics to law enforcement on the hate crimes perpetrated against Sikhs. Appropriate steps to tackle these crimes could not be taken in the past because accurate and centralized data was not available. Now that a system is in place, we are very hopeful that this problem will be sternly dealt with; that policies in this regard will be made at the national level and that a sense of security will prevail within the Sikh community.”
In April 2012, Rep Crowley led a letter signed by 93 members of Congress urging the FBI to update the Hate Crime Incident Report Form (1-699) to include crimes committed against Sikh-Americans. Rep Crowley spearheaded the introduction of a Congressional resolution recognizing the contributions of the Sikh-American community and urging action on hate crimes. In March 2013, he led a letter signed by over 100 members of Congress to the FBI Advisory Policy Board to express strong support to begin tracking and quantifying hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu and Arab-Americans. Last week, Rep Crowley submitted testimony to the FBI Advisory Policy Board reiterating his strong support for updating the hate crimes documentation form and sharing feedback and concerns from his conversations with Sikh, Hindu and Arab American communities over the past year.
“As Co-Chair of the Sikh American Congressional Caucus, I am proud to say that our first official act was to call for the tracking of hate crimes perpetrated against the Sikh community so law enforcement could better respond to and prevent them,” Representative Judy Chu exclaimed. “I am pleased to see that today, the FBI came one step closer to doing exactly that.” Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Representative David Valadao (R-CA), launched the first-ever Congressional American Sikh Caucus in late April. Along with the efforts of Rep Crowley, Sikhs Americans are definitely taking steps in the right direction when it comes to human and civil rights.
UNITED SIKHS advocated persistently about this matter which was first initiated by SALDEF in November 2010 to the FBI.
- As part of the UNITED SIKHS’ Sikh Summit in 2011 and 2012, the issue of having Sikhs as a separate category in the FBI hate crime reporting form was taken up vociferously, as UNITED SIKHS members visited over 55 congressional offices in 2 years putting forth this demand verbally and in memorandums submitted to the respective offices.
- UNITED SIKHS attended and advocated at all of the the Department of Justice’s Civil-Rights Division briefings in Washington D.C. and attended by civil right groups and community based organizations of various faiths in 2012.
- In a meeting earlier this year in Baltimore, MD, with FBI Director Mr.Robert Mueller, UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney Manmeet Singh asked Mr.Mueller, “Why hate crimes against Sikhs were being lumped as Anti-Arab crimes, or included in other categories, and why there wasn’t a separate category for Sikhs despite the fact that there had been hundreds of hate motivated attacks against Sikhs after 9/11.”
- In March, UNITED SIKHS organized a Know Your Rights workshop for the Sikh community in Seattle, Washington. Among others in attendance were officials from FBI Seattle and the Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington. The issue of FBI still not tracking hate crimes against Sikhs as a separate category was brought to everyone’s attention and support was sought for the same.
- In April, UNITED SIKHS representative spoke at a meeting organized by New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness where a large group of law enforcement officers from counties across New Jersey were present. Singh stressed on the urgent need of having Sikhs as a separate category in the FBI’s Hate Crime Reporting Form.
Fighting for civil and religious rights are daunting tasks because of the vagaries of national and international laws, but UNITED SIKHS will continue, nation by nation, to promote and protect Sikh articles of faith. We encourage the Sikh community to vigorously practice their faith and report any issues in their respective areas that burden the ability to practice their faith. Call 1-888-243-1690 or email us to report any concerns.