Over the past four years, the Sikh Coalition has worked to persuade law and policy makers, primarily in New York City, to adopt a plan which addresses foreseeable, bigoted violence against Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh communities in the wake of another terrorist attack.
Proposed New York City Bill
In 2005, New York City Council Member David Weprin (D-Hollis) introduced the “Hate Crime Prevention Act” which directs city agencies to create a written plan to mitigate backlash violence in the wake of another terrorist attack.
The 2005 Hate Crime Prevention Act eventually garnered the support of 25 of 50 City Council Members. To our knowledge, this was the first time any legislature in the United States proactively addressed the issue of foreseeable backlash violence against Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh communities.
Unfortunately, the 2005 bill died in legislative session. Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) has pledged to introduce another version of the bill in 2010.
Federal Engagement on Day After Planning
In addition to our work in New York City, the Coalition has worked with federal officials to be better prepared for a terrorist attack and its impact on civil rights and liberties. In part, as a result of the Coalition’s advocacy, the Department of Homeland Security created an “Incident Community Coordination Team” (ICCT).
The Incident Community Coordination Team is a phone chain of Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh community organizations who help the government identify and address concerns in the aftermath of incidents that could negatively affect the civil rights and liberties of these communities.
Thus far, the Sikh Coalition and other community organizations have been on calls with federal officials in the wake of the Fort Hood attack and the failed Christmas Day 2009 attack.