Responding to Vandalism at Khalsa Gurmat Center
On September 17, 2021, Khalsa Gurmat Center--a Sikh house of worship, school, and community center located in Federal Way, Washington--was vandalized and burglarized
. Video surveillance showed a suspect breaking in, ransacking the divan hall, breaking windows and electronic control panels, and stealing equipment.
The Center retained the Sikh Coalition to provide free legal assistance and liaise with relevant law enforcement agencies and elected officials as the investigation moves forward. At this time, law enforcement authorities are investigating all possible motives--including the possibility that bias could have been a factor. In addition, the Sikh Coalition has reached out to elected officials in Washington to ensure that they are aware of the investigation, and several media outlets, for the express purpose of helping law enforcement identify potential suspects. The Sikh Coalition will continue working directly with gurdwara leadership to prioritize safety and provide updates on the case as they become available.
Updates on Campaign to End Religious Discrimination in the U.S. Military
On September 26, 2021, the Sikh Coalition shared the story of our client, 1st Lieutenant (1stLt) Sukhbir Singh Toor, an active-duty officer in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) who is fighting to continue his military service while keeping his Sikh articles of faith. After more than three years of service, 1stLt Toor applied for a religious accommodation to resume wearing his turban and beard in March; the USMC has granted him an inadequate and incomplete religious accommodation that still forces him to choose between his religion and his career.
Accordingly, 1stLt Toor, the Sikh Coalition, and our pro bono co-counsel at Winston & Strawn LLP are considering our final steps before litigation. This case is the latest development in our 12-year campaign to combat employment discrimination by our nation’s largest employer, the Department of Defense. Read more about 1stLt Toor’s story in an exclusive New York Times piece
, and learn more about our work on this issue via our website
and community FAQ
Houston Post Office Named for Fallen Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal
Fallen Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal was honored with a post office naming on October 5, 2021. Per a bill introduced by Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX); supported by the Sikh Coalition; passed with bipartisan support, including that of Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX); and signed into law on December 21, 2020, the post office located at 315 Addicks Howell Road will henceforth be named the Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal Post Office Building
The Sikh Coalition was deeply honored to assist in drafting and marshaling support for the legislation that resulted in this post office naming. We were also proud to mobilize thousands of Sikh community members to contact their elected representatives in the days after Deputy Dhaliwal’s death urging this and other means to honor his memory. We thank our colleagues at the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund for assisting Congresswoman Fletcher’s office in organizing the naming ceremony. Read a statement from Deputy Dhaliwal’s father and learn more here
Upcoming Security Webinars for Gurdwaras in MI, IN, VA, and WA
On October 23 and 30, 2021, the Sikh Coalition will host a series of virtual community forums in Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, and Washington
to help sangat members learn more about resources, tools, best practices, and financial support that exist at the federal and state levels that can help prevent and combat hate crimes and bias incidents in our houses of worship.
Each webinar will include a panel discussion on best practices and federal resources, where representatives from the Department of Justice Community Relations Service and the Department of Homeland Security will provide critical information on the funding process for federal and state grants, and gurdwara leaders will speak about their experiences on how they procured funding and took additional steps to secure their local sangats. Click here to learn more and RSVP
if you live in Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, or Washington.
Latest COVID-19 Vaccine Resource
President Biden recently announced new federal vaccine mandates that will potentially impact nearly 100 million Americans. In addition, many states, universities, and schools have implemented their own COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In response, the Sikh Coalition developed a new resource about vaccine mandates
to help Sikh families determine how, if at all, these mandates impact them. Click here
to learn more about COVID-19 vaccine mandates in English and Punjabi.
Advocating for Better PPE for Sikhs
Last month, the Sikh Coalition submitted additional formal recommendations
to revise federal masking policies, calling for the availability and legal enforcement of alternative kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn by Sikhs, religious minorities, and other individuals as necessary. Previously, in August, the Sikh Coalition provided policy recommendations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in response to the federal government’s publication of the Emergency Temporary Standard to limit the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings. Additionally, we submitted recommendations to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to highlight the needs and challenges in PPE for the Sikh community.
If you or someone you know is a healthcare professional and have been told to shave facial hair in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact the Sikh Coalition
for a free legal consultation in English or Punjabi.
Honoring the Farmers’ Protest One Year Later
In September, the Sikh Coalition joined Sikhs across the United States and around the world in continued solidarity with the farmers of Punjab, Haryana, and elsewhere who have now been demonstrating for a year to oppose three farm laws that worsen the already harsh ecological and economic conditions in which they live. One year on, we continue to express our support for the protestors’ rights to demonstrate in defense of basic rights and human dignity, and remain inspired by their resilience in the face of brutality, censorship, and other repressive tactics.
We continue to monitor recent disturbing news out of the farmers’ protest closely. Click here
to read our full statement on the anniversary and to learn more about our organization’s work to raise awareness and other advocacy efforts around the #FarmersProtest.
100+ Legal Professionals Join Virtual CLE Conference
On September 24, 2021, more than 100 legal professionals and law students joined the conversation on the core civil rights issues facing Sikhs and other minority groups since 9/11 during the Sikh Coalition’s first-ever virtual legal conference
--Realizing Justice For All
--hosted in partnership with law firms Winston & Strawn LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. During the conference, we were also privileged to honor our 2021 Pro Bono Sevadar Co-Counsel of the Year, Winston & Strawn LLP Partner and Sikh Coalition Legal Advisory Committee member Amandeep S. Sidhu.
We extend our deepest gratitude to every attendee who joined us for our first-ever legal conference and are grateful to all of the conference speakers and panelists who shared their expertise with attendees throughout the day. In addition, we are thankful for the sponsors who made Realizing Justice For All
possible with their support, including Winston & Strawn LLP, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Hogan Lovells US LLP, the National Asian Pacific Bar Association (NAPABA), Goldberg Kohn LTD, and the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) North America Foundation.
National Bullying Prevention Month
The Sikh Coalition is marking October as National Bullying Prevention Month. As we work to collectively make schools safer, have you checked out our Back to School Toolkit
? It holds countless resources for students, parents, and educators on raising Sikh awareness and creating inclusive classrooms for all children. In addition, our education team has developed bullying prevention resources for students and parents, including anti-bullying brochures and a factsheet on cyberbullying, that can be downloaded here
The Sikh Coalition is currently hiring for two full-time positions! The Executive Director
will oversee the day-to-day management of the organization and serve as a hands-on manager who will build on and expand the Sikh Coalition’s foundation and legacy and lead the organization into its next phase of growth and development. The Education Director
will lead our local, state, and national educational campaigns and content development while shaping new strategies to accurately include the Sikh community in American education. Learn more and apply now!
In this Issue