December 15, 2017 (Washington, D.C.) – The Sikh Coalition facilitated a congressional briefing on Wednesday with two people profoundly impacted by white supremacist hate violence. In response to rising hate crime and emboldened white nationalist violence displayed in places like Charlottesville this year, Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Arno Michaelis illuminated the threats posed by white nationalist groups, told their compelling personal stories and proposed strategies to prevent future hate crime.
Pardeep Singh Kaleka is the son of Satwant Singh Kaleka, one of the six Sikh worshippers killed in the 2012 shooting at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara (Sikh house of worship). Arno Michaelis is a self-described reformed racist skinhead who was deeply involved in the white power movement, and he saw a former version of himself in the neo-Nazi gunman who attacked the gurdwara. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Kaleka and Michaelis became close friends and co-founded the empowerment organization Serve2Unite. At the congressional briefing, they detailed how their unlikely friendship was built and addressed the current state of racism and xenophobia.
“Given the increase in hate crimes and hate crime threat against various communities in America, the time for urgent action is now,” said Kaleka and Michaelis. “From governments to advocacy groups to individuals, we all have a role to play in creating a more peaceful world.”
In 2017, the Sikh Coalition continues to lead the way in response to combating and preventing hate. From our legal and policy work in response to targeted violence in Washington and California, to our media and community work to bring attention to the five-year anniversary of the Oak Creek shooting, we continue to comprehensively address hate across the United States. In addition, our free resources, including the potentially live-saving Gurdwara Security Toolkit (in both English and Punjabi), empower you to proactively address the challenges we face using a variety of strategies and tools. Finally, if you experience violence or threats of violence, please dial 911 immediately and fill out our legal intake form to request legal assistance.
“In this current political and social climate, we see bigotry legitimized at all levels of society,” said Sikh Coalition National Advocacy Manager Sim J. Singh. “We are using all of the tools available to us in order to combat the threat of hate crime.”
The congressional briefing, titled “Proactive Responses to Hate Crimes in the United States,” was held in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). We want to give a special thank you to Kaleka, Michaelis, Congresswoman Judy Chu and CAPAC.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.