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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
November 9, 2019
  • Sikh Coalition Works with PA Legislature to Introduce Hate Crime Bill Package

    The Sikh Coalition has worked with the Pennsylvania General Assembly over the past four months to guide several bills focused on reducing hate crimes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. State Representatives Dan Frankel and Ed Gainey introduced this package of bills in late October. Following the one year anniversary of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, these measures are expected to modernize Pennsylvania’s hate crime laws to better protect all citizens.

    We are calling on Pennsylvanians to take action:
    • Sign our online petition in support of these bills, which will automatically send a letter to your elected officials. Please also share this petition with your friends and family.
    • Share your story of a hate incident you witnessed, experienced, or know of at ReportHate.org. These stories can help educate your legislators on the problems of hate that exist in their district; you can choose to remain anonymous, and it is never too late to share your story.

    For more information, please contact advocacy@sikhcoalition.org.
  • Sharing Free Civil Rights Resources at Yuba City Nagar Kirtan

    From November 1-3, 2019, the Sikh Coalition joined thousands at the annual Yuba City, CA, Nagar Kirtan. Each year, the Nagar Kirtan brings together more than 100,000 Sikhs from across the United States and around the world. For the second year in a row, the Sikh Coalition sent a team of staff and volunteers to Yuba City to disseminate free resources.

    This year, we also debuted our brand-new Trucker Know Your Rights resource, which helps ensure that Sikh Americans in one of the fastest-growing industries know and understand their rights while driving. If you were unable to attend the Nagar Kirtan or visit our booth, you can still access civil rights information on school bullying, combating hate, and religious rights on our website.
  • 318,000+ Students Will Learn About Sikhism in Nebraska

    Yesterday, the Nebraska State Board of Education voted on new social studies standards, which, for the first time ever, include Sikhism. These standards will give over 318,000 students in Nebraska the opportunity to learn about the Sikh community; thanks to the Sikh Coalition’s work, they join nearly 22 million, or 42 percent of public school students across the country who can learn about Sikhism.

    The update to Nebraska’s social studies standards resulted from a year of relentless, behind-the-scenes advocacy. The new standards were finally approved earlier this week, with local adoption beginning in the 2021-2022 school year and a full implementation by 2023. The Sikh Coalition will continue to work closely with the Nebraska Department of Education during this process.

    Nebraska is now the 12th state (and 4th this year) we have worked with to include accurate information about Sikhs in their public school social studies standards. Click here to learn more about our efforts from this past year.
  • Remembering 1984, 35 Years Later

    Thirty-five years ago, from October 31-November 3, 1984, thousands of Sikhs were hunted and murdered by government-orchestrated mobs in cities throughout India following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Along with Sikhs around the world, the Sikh Coalition marks this solemn occasion as a turning point in our community’s history.

    As we recognize the 35th anniversary of these atrocities, it is important to understand the deep history of these events and the issues of state repression and impunity that are still relevant today. According to eyewitnesses and human rights activists, the killings were organized by government officials and facilitated by police officials. Unfortunately, 35 years later, the Indian government continues to deny appropriate justice to the victims and survivors of the massacres.

    The Sikh Coalition remains committed to raising awareness about anti-Sikh violence in India and supporting efforts to promote justice and accountability.
  • Sikh Coalition Attends Social Studies Conferences Around the Nation

    Throughout October, representatives and staff from the Sikh Coalition traveled far and wide to attend education conferences in Georgia, Washington, Florida, and Arizona. We disseminated resources, networked with educators, listened to attendees about their needs in the classroom, and presented on various topics, including sessions entitled “Responding to Hate with Healing and Reconciliation" and “Use Pop Culture to Teach About World Religions in your Classroom, Following the Sikh Example!”

    We are especially thankful to our volunteers Satwinder Kaur and Sukhin Kaur, who took time from their schedules to ensure that teachers and administrators in these states could learn more about the resources available to them. For more information on our education initiatives, please visit our website or reach out to education@sikhcoalition.org today.
  • Working with Servicemembers Nationwide to Secure Accommodations

    In October, we worked with sangats all over the nation to encourage their members of Congress to honor the late Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal through a bipartisan congressional resolution. This resolution sends a message to all Americans that his legacy will not soon be forgotten.

    Deputy Dhaliwal’s passing prompted us to work with 98 current and former Sikh American law enforcement officials and U.S. military servicemembers to deliver letters calling on their respective institutions to streamline religious accommodations. We also updated our Know Your Rights resource that helps observant Sikhs in the U.S. Army learn more about how to practice their faith freely while serving their country.

    To further the deputy’s legacy of se, the Houston Police Department implemented a policy change allowing law enforcement officers to wear their articles of faith while in uniform. The Sikh Coalition continues working, alongside other advocacy groups, to ensure that this policy is fair to all. The Houston PD is now the second-largest police department nationwide to accommodate Sikhs.
  • Immigration and Detention Updates

    This year, the Sikh Coalition has been providing resources and advocacy support to Sikhs suffering in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities. We recognize that immigration is a long-standing and complex issue. Even though we do not provide direct legal services on asylum or immigration cases and immigration policy is not a primary focus area of our work, we will fight to ensure that impacted community members’ civil rights are protected.

    To read more about the Sikh Coalition’s work and the positions we hold on U.S. immigration issues, read our new community FAQ and website page. The FAQ was explicitly designed to explain the work that we are doing as an organization and why we are doing it, as well as outline what we say about related issues. We have also developed a Know Your Rights resource on this topic to help those who may be detained or questioned understand their rights, regardless of immigration status. Moreover, our staff has been working to educate themselves even more on these issues, including by attending the 2019 National Immigrant Integration Conference, where Senior Staff Attorney Cindy Nesbit learned more about how policymakers, advocates, and lawyers can work together to benefit those in the system.
  • Successful SoCal Law Enforcement Trainings

    For the past several weeks, our Advocacy and Community Development teams have been hard at work to educate Southern California law enforcement about the Sikh community, leading Sikh awareness and anti-bias trainings with the Santa Ana and Irvine Police Departments.

    In late October, community leaders Jasjit Singh and Gagandeep Kaur trained more than 120 police officers in the Santa Ana Police Department. Thanks to their efforts, all of these officers are now better equipped to serve and protect the Sikh community. Earlier this week, Southern California Community Development Manager Inderpreet Kaur and Education Director Pritpal Kaur led trainings for officers in the Irvine Police Department.

    Trainings like these are a critical part of our Southern California engagement plan to develop solid relationships with important institutions by working closely with community members. If you would like to lead a Sikh awareness and anti-bias training at your city’s law enforcement department, please contact advocacy@sikhcoalition.org.
  • Sikhism Police Training Reaches 30,000

    More than 30,000 police officers in 550 police departments across New Jersey will soon have access to Sikh Cultural Diversity Training thanks to a year-long effort by the Sikh Coalition and other Sikh organizations.

    As a result of this collaboration, New Jersey has developed a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, and in-depth training on Sikhism. Officers will have access to instruction on the Sikh articles of faith and guidance for respecting religious rights more broadly. New Jersey Sikhs will even be able to help facilitate these trainings; those interested can sign up for more information here. Please state in the sign-up form that you’re interested in delivering accredited law enforcement trainings in New Jersey!

    Click here to view pictures from the first training. We look forward to completing this project and continuing our engagement with government and law enforcement across the country in service of equal treatment for Sikhs and minority groups everywhere.
  • A Sheriff's Office Responds to Hate

    In partnership with Sheriff Anthony Cureton of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, the Sikh Coalition and the Gay Officer’s Action League (GOAL) of New York offered a training opportunity for officers of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office last month.

    These trainings were in response to the September 2018 recording of former Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino making racist and homophobic remarks, including remarks targeting Sikh American New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. Within days of that recording’s release, the Sikh Coalition mobilized community members to send more than 1,700 emails to the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office demanding his resignation.

    Sheriff Saudino apologized and subsequently resigned due to this mounting public pressure. In the months since, the Sikh Coalition has been working with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, under the new leadership of Sheriff Anthony Cureton and others, to raise awareness about the Sikh community. And one year later, this training is yet another positive move in the right direction.
  • More Than 80 National Park Security Personnel Trained at Ellis Island

    In late October, the Sikh Coalition conducted a series of trainings for more than 80 security personnel at the Statue of Liberty National Monument on Ellis Island, NY.

    On multiple occasions in the past, Sikhs visiting the park were met with hostility and verbal abuse when trying to enter with their articles of faith, including kirpans. These complaints led to us working with the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service to deliver Sikh awareness presentations that would help employees understand the significance of the Sikh articles of faith and how to respectfully interact with Sikhs who wear them.

    Protecting the right of free exercise of religion–including by carrying articles of faith like the kirpan–remains central to the Sikh Coalition’s work. We will continue to work with institutions across the United States to ensure that articles of faith are accommodated in schools, places of employment, and public spaces.
  • Celebrating Guru Nanak’s 550th Gurpurab Nationwide!

    This year, sangats nationwide have partnered with the Sikh Coalition to commemorate Guru Nanak’s 550th gurpurab by building bridges with their neighbors through one-day open houses. So far, nearly 15 gurdwaras have engaged their communities in various ways, including, but not limited to, hosting an open house, leading out on service projects, and increasing awareness about Sikhism through resource dissemination.

    Keep up with these exciting updates as more sangats start to roll out their celebrations throughout this month by following our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.
  • Remembering Pittsburgh One Year Later

    On October 27, 2019, our nation marked one year since the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States: the mass shooting at the Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA. Last year, 11 worshippers were killed and six others were injured when an anti-Semitic gunman stormed the synagogue during Shabbat morning services. Sikhs across the nation stood in solidarity with their Jewish brothers and sisters then, and they continue to do so on this solemn anniversary.

    A number of Sikh Americans have, with support from the Sikh Coalition, authored pieces in major media outlets expressing sorrow and calling for concrete action. In addition, Senior Fellow Simran Jeet Singh attended the American Jewish Committee memorial service, where he, along with other interfaith leaders, lit 11 candles – one for each member of the Tree of Life congregation who passed. Notable attendees included NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, NY Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul, and NY Attorney General Letitia James.

    The Sikh Coalition will continue to fight hate across the nation.
  • Community Development Team Engages Local Sangats

    On October 13, 2019, the community of Tracy, CA hosted a “Meet the Sikhs” event, attracting approximately 225 community members from surrounding areas. Volunteer Sarabjit Kaur Cheema delivered a Sikh awareness presentation, and former Sikh Coalition summer intern JJ Kapur delivered a keynote speech on his own experiences growing up Sikh in America.

    In addition, on October 14, 2019, Community Development Manager Sahej Preet Singh delivered a presentation at the Mid Hudson Gurudwara in Wappingers Falls, NY to approximately 130 sangat members, providing them with an understanding of the Sikh Coalition’s extensive work, including information on our school bullying and hate crime prevention initiatives.
  • Sikh Coalition Participates in Religious Freedom Panels

    On October 29, 2019, Community Development Manager Harleen Kaur presented on a panel organized by the New York Disaster Interfaith Services entitled “Emotional & Spiritual Responses to Religious-Based Hate Crimes,” where she discussed what agencies in the city can do to combat hate, make it easier to report instances of hate, and how the Sikh community responds to hate violence.

    In addition, Legal Director Amrith Kaur attended the DFW Alliance for Religious Freedom Conference in Dallas, presenting on a panel entitled “Culture Conflict and Achieving Government Action to Preserve Individual Freedoms.” Amrith presented on how the Sikh Coalition utilizes its position to advocate for legislation that protects religious minorities in the United States.
  • Sikh Project Ends Installation at Los Angeles Museum

    On November 3, 2019, the Sikh Project exhibition at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles concluded.

    The Museum of Tolerance hosted the Sikh Project photography exhibition from September 11-November 3, 2019, in an effort to honor its commitment to fostering tolerance and understanding through community involvement, educational outreach, and social action. Community members from the Southern California area, including the Sikh Center of Orange County sangat, were able to take in the beauty of the exhibition. Events like these are imperative to raising the Sikh profile, leading to greater awareness and knowledge about Sikhs and also ensuring Sikhs have a space to share their own narrative.

    Stay tuned for updates on where the Sikh Project will be popping up next; if you have any questions about the exhibition or would like to learn more about how you might be able to bring the Sikh Project to your American city, please contact media@sikhcoalition.org.

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