On the evening of March 3rd, a 39-year-old Sikh man was shot in our Seattle-area town after the gunman told him to “go back to your own country.” Thankfully, his physical injuries were not life threatening, but hate found its way into our community, and we all understood that this violence demanded action.
With the direct support of the Sikh Coalition, we mobilized an organized response to engage law enforcement, public officials, and the media. Within 48 hours, the local police and FBI were investigating the shooting as a hate crime, and we were in direct communication with our local mayor, city council, police chief, state legislators, governor, and Members of Congress. Through the media, we educated millions of Americans about Sikhs and demanded action from our political leaders to prevent hate violence.
Over the next month, as the Sikh Coalition continued to provide us direct media support, we participated in local interfaith gatherings that brought Americans together to stand against hate. On April 8th, we joined public officials, law enforcement agencies and legal experts for a hate crime forum that focused on putting strategies and resources in motion to prevent future attacks.
Simultaneously, we coordinated with the Sikh Coalition to demand that the White House launch a new Presidential Task Force to prevent hate violence. Led by Maria Cantwell, 13 U.S. Senators signed a letter on April 3rd emphasizing the need for national leadership to prevent hate violence. Three days later, in response to multiple calls for action from the civil rights community, the Department of Justice announced a new committee to specifically address hate crimes.
The Sikh community, from the grassroots to the grasstops, has a fundamental role to play in combatting hate and defending our civil rights. We had the opportunity to witness so many sevadaars and gurdwara leaders step up in the wake of this incident; their impact inspired us to take action to contribute towards the larger effort. It’s empowering to know that we have organizations like the Sikh Coalition who care about equipping local community members with the tools and resources to make a meaningful impact in this work.
Our future success depends on all of us playing a role together. We know we can rely on the Sikh Coalition to amplify our voices in emergencies and make our community more resilient against hate. We encourage every Sikh to learn more about the Sikh Coalition and reach out to understand how you can partner with them to further grow this work.
In Chardi Kala,
Hira Singh (Khalsa Gurmat School) & Satwinder Kaur (Sikh SOCH)
Hira and Satwinder want to recognize every local Seattle-area sevadaar for their leadership and contributions, including Harminder Singh and the Gurudwara Singh Sabha in Renton, WA.
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