Remembering Oak Creek Nine Years Later
On August 5, 2021, our nation marked the nine year anniversary of the 2012 Oak Creek gurdwara shooting tragedy. We solemnly remember Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suveg Singh Khattra, and Satwant Singh Kaleka, who were killed on that horrific day. We also honor Baba Punjab Singh, who passed away on March 2, 2020 due to complications related to the injuries he sustained during the attack. And we continue to be inspired by the perseverance of those who were also critically injured at the time: Bhai Santokh Singh and Lt. Brian Murphy.
We continue to pray for these individuals and their families, and are inspired by the strength of the entire Oak Creek sangat, which set a powerful example of resilience for the entire nation. And we remain committed to pushing forward through education, outreach, and advocacy efforts to prevent further tragedies.
Announcing Leadership Transition
After twelve exceptional years at the organization, the Sikh Coalition’s Executive Director, Satjeet Kaur, will be stepping down
in January 2022.
“Working at this organization and on behalf of the Sikh community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have worked with incredible people who have labored tirelessly to improve civil rights for Sikhs and so many others here in America. While leaving a place that I love is extremely difficult, I will depart knowing that the organization has never been better prepared for the extraordinary challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” said Satjeet.
Accordingly, the Sikh Coalition is formally launching a national search for our next Executive Director. Click here
to learn more about the Executive Director position, including the required qualifications and how to apply. We are grateful to have Satjeet fully committed to the Executive Director position for another six months to oversee the transition, and the Sikh Coalition staff and board preemptively thank her for her unwavering dedication and service to the organization and the Sikh community.
Responding to Vandalism at a New York Gurdwara
Last week, Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji New York in New Hyde Park, NY–which is still under construction–was vandalized
with graffiti, including phrases like “this aint ya trap sandn*****” and “Trump 2024 Make America Great Again!” After the damage was discovered on Tuesday afternoon and reported to law enforcement, the gurdwara retained the Sikh Coalition to provide free legal support and assist in the case. At this time, law enforcement authorities continue working to make an arrest and are investigating the role bias likely played in the case given the clear xenophobic rhetoric.
At this time, Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji New York respectfully requests that everybody refrain from visiting the gurdwara site. In the future, gurdwara leadership hopes to invite local community members of all faiths to visit the gurdwara once it is formally open. In addition, bringing media attention to this case was done for the express purpose of helping law enforcement identify potential suspects. That publicity work has already been effectively done and resulted in media coverage in local and national outlets
. The Sikh Coalition will continue working directly with gurdwara leadership to prioritize safety and provide updates on the case as they become available.
Law Enforcement Concludes Investigation into Indianapolis FedEx Shooting
On July 28, 2021, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced the conclusion of their investigation into the April 15, 2021 shooting that killed eight people–including four Sikhs–injured others, and changed countless lives.
Since the shooting, the Sikh Coalition has worked with Indianapolis community members to call for a full and transparent investigation to understand the shooter’s motive and determine if bias may have been a factor in this attack. During the press conference, the FBI said that local and federal authorities have determined that this shooting was “an act of suicidal murder” not driven by any particular ideology. The Sikh Coalition, however, believes that law enforcement has not done enough to provide thorough answers to the concerns or questions regarding potential bias motivation.
To reiterate, the Sikh Coalition does not dismiss the shooter’s reported mental health issues nor the toxic masculinity discussed during the press conference; however, we believe it is important for law enforcement to acknowledge that bias may still be a factor in these sorts of attacks in addition to these other issues. Click here
to read the press statement our organization released in response to law enforcement’s findings. In the months ahead, we remain committed
to supporting the Indianapolis sangat through free legal aid, victim services, and other community resources.
[REGISTER] Virtual CLE Conference on September 24
The Sikh Coalition invites you to join us for our first-ever virtual legal conference
, Realizing Justice For All. As our organization approaches our 20-year anniversary this September, we are partnering with Winston & Strawn LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP to host this conference for lawyers and law students to gain CLE accreditation while learning about the core civil rights issues that Sikhs have faced for the last two decades.
The conference will take place on Friday, September 24, 2021, from 11 AM to 5 PM ET. Legal professionals and current law students will have the opportunity to acquire CLE accreditation in Elimination of Bias, Diversity, or Ethics depending on their state. Click here
to read the conference schedule, review the registration fees and scholarship opportunities, and reserve your spot!
[TAKE ACTION] Include Sikhi in Minnesota Schools
Last week, the second draft of the Minnesota Academic Standards for Social Studies was released for public review. After mobilizing alongside the Minnesota Sikh community in December 2020 to urge the state Department of Education (MDE) to include Sikhi as a world religion in the second draft, we were disappointed to find that the MDE completely removed the entire standard and benchmark that specifically mentioned world religions. This all but eliminates the possibility of the Sikh community being included in classroom discussions, and students may now not even learn about world religions meaningfully at all.
In response, we are collaborating with people of all faiths in Minnesota through videos
, and direct outreach to present a unified ask to the MDE: to make edits to the standards and include more robust benchmarks to teach about world religions in a meaningful way, which will specifically include Sikhi. But we need your help. With only two days left to take action, this is the last opportunity to make an impact and get the Sikh community included in the final draft. If you live in Minnesota, click here to write to the MDE and writing committee chairs by 4 PM on Monday, August 16, 2021
, and ask your friends and family to do the same!
Virtual Summer Youth Camp Tour
The Sikh Coalition is honored to virtually present anti-bullying workshops at Sikh summer youth camps across the country.
As sangats nationwide continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, many gurmat camps were held virtually or in accordance with public health guidelines to provide Sikh youth a place to connect, learn, and grow. We are grateful to the Sikh Foundation of Virginia (Fairfax, VA), Sri Guru Singh Sabha (Glen Rock, NJ), and the Tri-State Sikh Cultural Society (Monroeville, PA) for inviting us to virtually present anti-bullying workshops to kids of all ages. We look forward to continuing these important conversations in other parts of the country during this month. If your gurdwara is interested in presenting an anti-bullying workshop to camp attendees, please email our team at email@example.com
Upcoming Webinar on Safety for Houses of Worship
This Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET, the White House will host a webinar, “Preventing Targeted Violence and Protecting the Safety and Security of Houses of Worship through Faith and Community Based Approaches.” During the webinar, attendees will hear from speakers including Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy Sim J. Singh about the approaches houses of worship can follow to ensure the safety of all. Click here to RSVP
The Sikh Coalition also addresses safety concerns for houses of worship in our flagship policy guide, “Combating Bias, Bigotry, and Backlash: Sikh American Civil Rights Policy Priorities.” Read the latest edition
and visit us on Instagram
to hear from our advocacy team about a few specific policy recommendations you can make of your elected officials today.
Trainings Continue for FBI Offices Nationwide
In July, the Sikh Coalition led a Sikh awareness training for agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office in Minneapolis, MN. This follows a successful training for the FBI field office in Salt Lake City, UT, and comes as a direct result of our March training for more than 50 FBI Community Outreach Specialists. In the months ahead, the Sikh Coalition looks forward to conducting additional trainings for FBI agents nationwide to ensure that law enforcement is better equipped to respond to the challenges faced by Sikh Americans. If you would like to inquire about a Sikh awareness training for law enforcement agencies in your area, please email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
North Carolina Sangat Joins Education Webinar
Last month, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved content and examples that, for the first time, included Sikhism for the K-12 social studies standards. Since then, the Sikh Coalition has been working to ensure that Sikh community members statewide are equipped with the tools to engage educators in all grade levels.
On August 5, 2021, parents and students from across the state joined our education team for a virtual webinar. During the discussion, attendees learned about where Sikhi is now included in North Carolina’s K-12 standards and the resources available that make it as easy as 1-2-3 to engage educators. On our blog, you can read a reflection
from our summer education team intern, Jasleen Kaur, where she talks about her experience fighting to get Sikhi in North Carolina classrooms.
New Partner Organization Report Addresses Hate Crimes
The Sikh community is one of the most frequently targeted faith groups for bias-based incidents and hate crimes. As part of our ongoing efforts to combat and prevent hate crimes, the Sikh Coalition was proud to join 15 other leading civil rights organizations in partnering with the Movement Advancement Project for their new report, “Policy Spotlight: Hate Crime Laws.” This report shares both the opportunities and limitations of hate crime laws as a means of preventing and addressing hate violence. Click here
to read the full report.
In this Issue