Swift Response Leads to Arrest, Confession in CA Hate Crime Case
A California gurdwara, Gurdwara Singh Sabha, along with a community member’s truck in the parking lot, were vandalized with hateful graffiti in early December. The graffiti included the phrase, "Fuck ISIS," along with gang references.
After legal and communications support from the Sikh Coalition, Buena Park Police Department formally opened a hate crimes investigation into the case and made an arrest. According to local police, the suspect confessed to vandalizing both the gurdwara and the truck containing the hateful slurs. The Sikh Coalition will continue to work with the gurdwara and the local prosecutor’s office to push for appropriate charges.
The Sikh Coalition coordinated and secured coverage in dozens of media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times
and the New York Times
Police are still searching for the owner of the vandalized truck with the hate slurs/graffiti, as this person is both a victim and a possible witness. The driver was possibly from Texas and was passing through the Buena Park area. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or 212-655-3095 ext. 85 if you have any information that can help us find him.
Success! Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month in California
For the fourth consecutive year, California recognized November as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month. The Sikh Coalition reached six million Americans through presentations, events and education.
The Sikh Coalition joined with public officials, local governments, South Asian media outlets and hundreds of community members to raise Sikh awareness and education across California. Sikh Awareness and Appreciation resolutions were passed in San Jose
, Santa Clara, Milpitas
, Elk Grove, Marysville and Yuba City. In addition to co-hosting a Sikh Awareness and Appreciation game with the Los Angeles Clippers
on November 14, 2015, the Sikh Coalition partnered with Inkquisitive Illustration to leverage art to educate the public about Sikhs.
With the help of dedicated community members, Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month was a great success. If you are interested in planning for next year, please contact Harjit@sikhcoalition.org
The Sikh Coalition Partners with the White House for Anti-Bullying Event
On November 21, 2015, over 200 youth, families, advocates and leaders gathered in solidarity against bullying. The Sikh Coalition, the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), and the Coalition of Asian and Pacific Entertainers (CAPE) co-hosted the official launch of the national Act to Change bullying awareness campaign
. The event, held at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, promoted the campaign with keynote speakers, panels and performances. Some atendees included U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, actor and WHIAAPI commissioner Maulik Pancholy, Miss America 2014 Nina Davaluri, and musician Raaginder “Violinder.” We are grateful for opportunities that expand awareness and bring communities together.
Post Paris, Exercise Caution & Know Your Rights
The Sikh community is heartbroken over the tragic loss of lives in the high-profile acts of terrorism worldwide. We stand in solidarity and support with all the victims and offer our prayers to their families.
The Sikh Coalition also understands that much of this fear and subsequent backlash gets redirected towards minority religious communities, and we urge every Sikh to exercise extra vigilance during this period of increased anxiety. In the event of threats of violence, please notify law enforcement and contact the Sikh Coalition at 212-655-3095 or email@example.com
. We encourage Sikh travelers to understand their rights by reviewing our Sikh Air Traveler’s Guide and Bill of Rights
Also, discrimination by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can be reported using the Sikh Coalition’s FlyRights app, available at fly-rights.org
NYC Court Dismisses Criminal Charges Against Sikh for Carrying His Kirpan
On November 20, 2015, a Manhattan court dismissed criminal charges against a Sikh man for carrying his kirpan. Amandeep Singh was on his way to attend proceedings at Brooklyn Family Court when security officers confiscated his kirpan and issued him a criminal summons. Mr. Singh was charged under New York City Administrative Code § 10-133, which prohibits the carrying of knives with blade lengths of 4 inches or more.
Unfortunately, kirpans continue to be criminalized and misunderstood, even by the court system. The judge at Mr. Singh’s hearing admonished him for setting a bad example by carrying a “knife” in public. The Sikh Coalition’s Senior Staff Attorney, Gurjot Kaur, explained the religious significance of the kirpan and presented case law supporting Sikhs’ rights to carry their kirpans
. Mr. Singh’s charges were dismissed – but we still have a long way to go in securing the right for all Sikhs to practice freely.
Mr. Singh stated, “No individual should be forced to go to court to defend their articles of faith. I appreciate the good work that the Sikh Coalition is doing in spreading awareness of this issue.”
Law and Policy Director Moderates Panel on Police Practices
On November 20, 2015, Arjun Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition, moderated a panel at a national symposium at Georgetown University Law Center, entitled "Police/State: Race, Power & Control." The symposium explored current police practices and how criminal law disproportionately impacts communities of color. Panelists included legal scholars, police officers, judges, practitioners and activists. In addition to moderating, Arjun presented on counter-terrorism initiatives that disproportionately impact American Muslims, including intelligence mapping programs and countering violent extremism programs. He warned that these programs stigmatize American Muslims and lead to bullying, discrimination and hate violence.
Junior Sikh Coalition joins Let’s Share a Meal Langar Seva Initiative
On November 14, 2015, the Junior Sikh Coalition partook in Nanak Naam Jahaj Gurdwara’s fourth annual Let’s Share a Meal initiative
to serve food at local homeless shelters. Following Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s guidance of vand ke chakna, local Let’s Share a Meal volunteers prepped and donated langar, and spent the entire weekend delivering and serving food to over 8000 people across New Jersey and New York. The JSC would like to thank the Nanak Naam Jahaj Gurdwara sangat for organizing Let’s Share a Meal and to all volunteers for upholding the fundamental Sikh value of seva.
NYC Sikh Film Festival Screens “Struggle to Serve”
On November 21, 2015, "Struggle to Serve"
, a documentary on the campaign to end the presumptive ban on Sikh service in the US military, was screened at the Sikh International Film Festival
in New York City. The film was followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session featuring Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur and Major Kamaljeet Kalsi. Major Kalsi was the first Sikh to be accommodated to serve in the US Army with a beard and turban in more than a generation.
Now Accepting Spring Internship Applications!
The Sikh Coalition is looking for interns! The Spring Internship Program is an opportunity for highly motivated undergraduate students to engage directly with the our work. Interns are required to commit at least 10 hours per week through the spring semester and have the opportunity to work closely with Sikh Coalition staff to make real change in the fight for Sikh civil rights. We are currently hiring interns in our Media & Communications, Development, and Community Development programs. For more information, click here.
In this Issue
In order for us to collectively succeed, we need to individually contribute. The Sikh Coalition depends on your support to fight for Sikh civil and human rights
December is the most crucial month in our fundraising cycle. Please consider financially supporting the Sikh Coalition at www.sikhdonate.org.