Attorney General Holder Expresses Support for Sikh Hate Crime Tracking
Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at a Justice Department oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in Congress on May 15, 2013 and publicly expressed support for adding Sikh, Hindu, and Arab-American categories to the FBI’s Hate Crime Incident Report (Form 1-699).
Click here to watch a video clip
The Sikh Coalition first requested revisions to Form 1-699 in January 2011. To date, our request has been endorsed by more than 135 members of the U.S. Congress, and the Civil Rights Division and Community Relations Service of the U.S. Department of Justice. Since we first called for revisions to Form 1-699, Sikhs have continued to endure hate crimes: two elderly Sikhs were murdered in Elk Grove, California; a Sikh cab driver was assaulted in Sacramento, California; a Sikh transit worker was assaulted in New York City; a Sikh cab driver was assaulted in Seattle, Washington; a Sikh business owner was shot and injured in Port Orange, Florida; a Sikh grandfather was assaulted with a steel rod in Fresno, California; and six Wisconsin Sikhs were murdered by an attacker with known ties to hate groups in one of the worst attacks on an American place of worship in history.
A final decision about whether to begin tracking hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu, and Arab-Americans is scheduled to be made by the FBI in June 2013.
Legal Victory! Bullied for Years, Sikh Student Gets Justice in Landmark Settlement
In an unprecedented victory for Sikh students nationwide, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a landmark settlement agreement with the DeKalb County School District in Atlanta, Georgia on behalf of a Sikh victim of school bullying who had been subjected to years of bias-based bullying and verbal and physical harassment by a number of different students.
This is the first time the federal government has entered into a settlement on a school bullying matter involving a Sikh student. The settlement sends a clear message to school districts nationwide that they must take effective action to end bias-based bullying of all school children, including Sikh children.
Click here to read more about this historic victory.
Legal Victory! Sikh Student Can Wear Turban at National Exams
The National Board of Examiners in Optometry
(NBEO) provided Ampreet Singh, a Sikh optometry student, a religious accommodation to use a non-standardized optometry instrument --- allowing him to wear his turban -- to complete the clinical skills portion of the national licensing examination.
Initially, the NBEO refused to agree to a workable solution. The Sikh Coalition advocated for Mr. Singh extensively. After months of negotiations, the NBEO finally agreed to allow Mr. Singh to wear the spectacle-mounted BIO instrument and graded him on-site through the use of a teaching mirror and a proctor. This accommodation allowed him to complete the practical portion of his board examination while wearing his turban.
Click here to read more about this legal victory.
Call to Action: Donate to the Family of Kanwaljit Singh, Florida Sikh Shot in February 2013
On February 23, 2013, Kanwaljit Singh was traveling home with his 13-year-old son after closing his convenience store when a truck pulled up beside them. The individual(s) in the truck opened fire on Mr. Singh and his son. Mr. Singh sustained gunshot wounds in his thigh and torso. The person or people who attacked Mr. Singh have yet to be apprehended. Please read the complete update here.
Since the suspected hate crime attack, Mr. Singh and his family, including his wife and two children, have suffered from significant financial problems. Due to Mr. Singh’s medical condition, he is unable to return to work at his convenience store. The family is behind in paying utility bills and purchasing inventory to keep the store open. They are at serious risk of losing their business, barely two months after it first opened, because of this violent, senseless, and terrifying attack.
In the true Sikh spirit of seva, we humbly request your support in assisting this family during this financially and psychologically distressing time. You may financially support Mr. Singh and his family by writing checks made payable to Mr. Kanwaljit Singh and mailing them to:
Mr. Kanwaljit Singh, c/o Sikh Society of Central Florida
2527 W. State Road 426, Oviedo, FL 32765
(Note that contributions are NOT tax deductible)
An Update on Piara Singh, Fresno Hate Crime Victim
Over the last two weeks, the Fresno community has come together to show support for Mr. Piara Singh, the 82 year old Sikh man who was brutally attacked during his early morning walk home from his local Gurdwara. Mr. Piara Singh has been released from the hospital.
The Sikh Coalition is working closely with Mr. Piara Singh’s family to organize Sikh Awareness Presentations for educators, law enforcement officials and government agencies and will continue to do so over the coming weeks. The Sikh Coalition also published an Op/Ed for the Fresno Bee
. Click here to read more
and watch a video of the press conference
that took place last week.
Hyphen Magazine: The Story of Two Sikh American Men
Last month, Sikh Coalition Advocates
Winty Singh, Gurwinder Singh and Meeta Kaur published an essay discussing the shared experiences and journeys of two Sikh American men. The essay highlights the experiences of two young men and the journey from being physically confronted on a daily basis to finding courage from faith and leadership within the community. As the very inspiring article notes, "We chose to be invisible, so we would no longer stand out. But in the silence of who we were, we both turned to the grounding elements of our spiritual faith." Click here to read the essay.
Essay - Celebrating the American Sikh Congressional Caucus
Last month’s launch of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus represents a new chapter in the Sikh American story. Much in the way the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama marked a turning point for the American civil rights movement, the August 5, 2012 murder of six Sikh worshippers at a Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin underscored the urgent need for Sikh Americans to create awareness about Sikh American civil rights issues at the highest levels of our government.
Sikh Coalition Congratulates 2013 ChangeMaker Award Winner Sukhjinder K. Dhariwal
The Sikh Coalition congratulates Ms. Sukhjinder K. Dhariwal, a public school educator from Milwaukee, WI, for being awarded
the 2013 ChangeMaker Award at this year’s National South Asian Summit, hosted by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
and held from April 19th-22nd, 2013. The Sikh Coalition proudly nominated Ms. Dhariwal for the prestigious award for her tremendous seva on behalf of the Oak Creek Sikh community following last year’s mass shooting. Ms. Dhariwal emerged as a powerful community advocate and provided crucial links between government and the Sikh American community, and ensured that all victims and survivors, including new immigrants, had access to necessary services and were made aware of their options. Ms. Dhariwal’s work also includes engaging government and school officials in finding long-term solutions to ending hate and promoting peace and solidarity in America. Congratulations to a very well deserving Ms. Dhariwal!
Sikh Coalition Enthusiastically Participates in SAALT Summit
From April 19 to 22 the Sikh Coalition participated in the National South Asian Summit organized by our longstanding partner organization South Asian Americans Leading Together
(SAALT). Over 350 activists and multiple Sikh Coalition staff enthusiastically engaged in a weekend of learning, connecting, and building a social justice movement. The Sikh Coalition's Program Director, Amardeep Singh, participated in a plenary session panel on the tragedy in Oak Creek and its implications for the broader social justice movement. The Sikh Coalition's Executive Director, Sapreet Kaur, participated on a panel on grassroots fund development entitled “Building Sustainable Organizations." As always, the Sikh Coalition is grateful for SAALT's true leadership and steadfast partnership with us and the broader Sikh American community.
Sikh Coalition's Program Director Receives Alumni Award from Coro New York Leadership Center
Amardeep Singh, the Coalition's Co-Founder and Program Director, received the "Alumni Award" from the Coro New York Leadership Center on April 24, 2013 before a crowd of over 400 at New York City's Gotham Hall.
The Coro New York Leadership Center
is New York City's premier leadership training center with an alumni network of over 2,000 government, business, and non-profit leaders throughout New York City. Four Sikh Coalition staff members (and counting) have received leadership training through Coro's nine month long Immigrant Civic Leadership Program
. Some of the Sikh Coalition's most meaningful government and non-profit relationships have been built through Coro and its programs. The Sikh Coalition is grateful for its relationship with Coro New York and thankful for its recognition of Amardeep's and the Sikh Coalition's work in New York City.
Sikh Coalition Provides Training at American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute
On April 5, 2013, the Sikh Coalition provided training on advocacy, planning and strategy to American Muslim leaders associated with the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute
The Institute is a nine month program during which competitively chosen American Muslim leaders build their skills and networks in order to move their communities forward through civic engagement. The Sikh Coalition's Programs Director, Amardeep Singh, and Director of Law and Policy, Rajdeep Singh, shared their perspectives on consciously choosing advocacy campaign and strategies. The Sikh Coalition appreciates the opportunity to share its training with the participants and develop its relationship with interfaith communites.
Sikh Coalition Discusses Post-9/11 Profiling & Backlash in Talk Back Panel
On May 16, 2013, the Sikh Coalition’s Staff Attorney, Gurjot Kaur, spoke on a Talk Back panel following the theatrical performance of “Iva:The Myth of Tokyo Rose: Allegiance on Trial,”
attended by over 200 members of the public. The performance was a joint collaboration of the Asia Society, the Asian American Bar Association of New York, and the Asian American Arts Alliance, and in commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The play brought to life the true story and court case of Iva Toguri, an American citizen of Japanese descent, who was racially profiled and wrongfully persecuted for treason during World War II.
The other panelists included Federal Appellate Judge Denny Chin, who presided over the Bernie Madoff criminal prosecution and the Google Books settlement, and Kathy Chin, a powerful litigator in New York City. The Sikh Coalition drew parallels between the persecution of the Japanese during World War II, including the unlawful internment of Japanese Americans in camps, and the challenges faced in the post 9/11 era by the Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh communities.
Sikh Coalition Participates in Greater Seattle’s Vaisakhi Celebrations
On May 4, 2013, the Sikh Coalition joined the greater Seattle, Washington Sangat in their Vaisakhi celebrations - Vaisakhi: A Day of Empowerment
. Satjeet Kaur, Development and Communications Manager and U.S. Army Specialist Simran Preet Singh Lamba, the third Sikh Coalition client to be religiously accommodated by the U.S. Army, addressed the sangat and local officials. Approximately 7,500 Sikhs from the area attended the event, participated in the Nagar Keertan and enjoyed workshops led by local sevadars and community organizations. We are grateful to the sangat for inviting the Sikh Coalition on this wonderful occasion and look forward to continuing our engagement.
Sikh Coalition Joins Faith Leaders for National Day of Prayer
On May 2, 2013, the Sikh Coalition was invited to speak at the Marin Interfaith Council's annual National Day of Prayer breakfast. Joining speakers from the Muslim and Presbyterian faiths, our California Advocacy Manager, Simran Kaur, spoke about the Sikh faith, the role of prayer and meditation and the meaning of individual and community prayer. Approximately 100 people attended the annual breakfast, which was held at Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon, California. We are grateful to the Marin Interfaith Council for including the Sikh community in their National Day of Prayer event.
In this Issue