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The Sikh Coalition News
August 17, 2021
  • Combating Hate through Building Community Power in California

    August 17, 2021 (Sacramento, CA) -- With the support of Sikh community members across the state of California, the Sikh Coalition continues working to support policies and legislation that would better prevent and combat hate crimes against Sikhs and other impacted minority communities.

    The Sikh Coalition estimates that Sikhs remain hundreds of times more likely to experience bias, bigotry, or backlash than the average American. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Sikhs remain in the top five-most targeted faith groups in the United States. Given that California houses approximately 50 percent of the nationwide Sikh population, the Sikh Coalition continues to prioritize stronger hate crime legislation, presentations, policy changes, proclamations, and training efforts in the state.

    “It is crucial to hold policymakers accountable so that Sikhs and other vulnerable communities can live with dignity without being targeted for violence or discrimination”, said Nikki Singh, Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy at the Sikh Coalition. “We will continue working tirelessly with California policymakers to bring forward solutions and legislation that address the needs of all marginalized communities.”

    Since 2019, the Sikh Coalition has worked with a coalition of civil rights organizations, experts, and advocates across California on at least eight pieces of legislation. This non-stop process of working with state lawmakers, allies, and other impacted California communities has been uniquely challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, but presently, this work includes:

    Support for AB 57: The Sikh Coalition joined a larger coalition of organizations working to improve hate crime laws within California. Specifically, we support the intent of this bill to implement the State Auditor’s recommendations to better prevent, respond to, and document hate crimes in the state. The Sikh Coalition also supports the bill’s intent to strengthen training requirements for peace officers and to require improved guidance, outreach, data collection, and reporting by the California Department of Justice.

    Support for AB 1126: This bill would establish the Commission on the State of Hate within the state government. Specifically, the Sikh Coalition supports the goals of the commission in providing resources and assistance to federal, state, and local agencies and the public on the state of hate and advising on policy recommendations to promote intersocial education.

    Both bills are now in the Senate Committee on Appropriations and are expected to receive a hearing in mid-August.

    The Sikh Coalition has also helped organize Sikh awareness and bullying prevention presentations in California schools, organized Sikh awareness and hate crime trainings for law enforcement, led trainings on protecting houses of worship, helped place Sikh community members on city and county hate crimes task forces, and ensured that Sikhism is included as part of California’s Ethnic Studies curriculum. Following the release of our updated Gurdwara Security Toolkit, the Sikh Coalition hosted a gurdwara security webinar focused on the California sangat, featuring representatives from the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the state government.

    Last year, former Social Justice Fellow Winty Singh attended an oversight hearing at the California State Capitol in Sacramento about the tracking and reporting of hate crimes. He submitted public comment to the California State Legislature regarding the absence of California anti-Sikh hate crimes in the FBI database, and advocated for greater Sikh participation in police officer training and other task forces meant to address the growing trend of hate crimes. Click here to watch his complete testimony. The Sikh Coalition also assisted with an open house and interfaith solidarity event at Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib in Orangevale, CA. Hundreds of people–along with elected officials, faith and community leaders, and partner organizations–joined the Orangevale sangat on the heels of the discovery of white nationalist graffiti on the gurdwara property in January of 2020.

    These initiatives support the Sikh Coalition’s larger organizational efforts to combat bias, bigotry, bullying and backlash to better protect Sikhs across California. For questions about our work to combat hate in California, you can contact advocacy@sikhcoalition.org.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition encourages you to practice your faith fearlessly.

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