June 20, 2019 (Salem, Oregon) - Yesterday, the Oregon State Legislature voted to pass SB 577
, which streamlines data collection, expands protected classes and puts in place better penalties against criminals acting on bias and hate. With SB 577, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors can be better-equipped to understand bias incidents and gather the information necessary for appropriate prosecution of such crimes.
Currently, law enforcement agencies in the state are falling drastically short on reporting hate crimes; most recent FBI hate crime data for Oregon shows that only 29 out of 214 law enforcement agencies reported hate crimes to the FBI.
This piece of legislation was supported by direct Sikh community involvement, including advising the Attorney General’s hate crime task force on drafting this legislation and advocating for the bill through a petition campaign
that had nearly 100 Sikh community members take direct action across the state.
“It is unfortunate that Sikhs continue to be targeted for bias crimes, but with this bill, Oregon can begin the process of better deterring hate crimes,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy & Advocacy Sim J. Singh. “We thank every Sikh community member who took action and implore Governor Brown to sign this bill into law and signal to Oregonians that bias and bigotry are unwelcome here.”
This bill comes after the recent assault against Salem Sikh community member and convenience store owner Harwinder Singh Dodd on January 14, 2019. The Sikh Coalition successfully represented Mr. Singh Dodd in this case
and continues to provide completely free and confidential legal assistance to Sikh community members who have experienced bigotry and backlash. If you or somebody you know has been a victim of bias, bigotry or hate crime violence, contact our legal team by filling out our legal intake form
to request assistance.
The Sikh Coalition thanks Unite Oregon and other partners for their leadership and community organizing on this legislation, along with every Sikh community member and gurdwara that took direct action in Oregon to support this bill. We will continue to work with Oregon law enforcement and officials to minimize the risk of bias crimes against our community.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.