October 27, 2021 (New York, NY) — Earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published additional data on hate crimes and bias incidents for calendar year 2020. 

According to the FBI, the previous 2020 dataset left out some 500 hate crimes and bias incidents in the state of Ohio. On the whole, hate crimes are at their highest reported level since 2001, and anti-Sikh incidents are at their highest level since they were first tracked in 2015; the updated data also reportedly includes a significant number of anti-Sikh hate crimes and bias incidents.

“We remain deeply alarmed that this additional data points to historic levels of hate crime and bias incidents both in general and for the Sikh community,” said Sim J. Singh Attariwala, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy. “This data further validates our long-held conclusion that Sikhs are among the most frequently targeted faith groups for hate in the United States; our community cannot afford to keep waiting for government action in response to this urgent threat.” 

According to the latest FBI hate crime statistics, anti-Sikh hate crime incidents increased by 82%, from 49 to 89, from 2019 to 2020. Per this data, Sikhs are the third most targeted faith community in the United States (following anti-Islamic and anti-Jewish hate crimes and bias incidents). As alarming as these numbers are, we remain concerned that the data reported to the FBI is imperfect and does not accurately account for all hate crimes against communities.

“The correction of the FBI’s data, and the low number of law enforcement agencies reporting in the first place, show that improving hate crime data collection is essential to addressing this problem,” said Nikki Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy. “However urgent the need for stronger data collection is, though, it’s only the first step. That’s why the Sikh Coalition continues to engage in federal and state-level legislative advocacy for better hate crime laws, along with making recommendations to federal agencies, supporting state-level task forces, and of course providing free legal aid to Sikhs who experience hate and bias.”

Earlier this year, President Biden signed the first major federal hate crimes legislation in 12 years: the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which included key provisions of the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act. The latter, which the Sikh Coalition had advocated for since its introduction in Congress in 2019, includes key components to strengthen hate crime tracking and reporting at the local level–but the FBI’s data underscores that there is clearly more urgent work to be done. We continue to work on hate crime laws at the state level as well; this year, the Sikh Coalition has engaged on legislative advocacy efforts to this effect in California, Massachusetts, Wyoming, South Carolina, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Of note, the Sikh Coalition was founded 20 years ago in response to a wave of bias, bigotry, and backlash against Sikh community members across the United States. In the years since, we have emerged as the leading civil rights organization working to combat and prevent anti-Sikh hate. After the deadly assault on the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, gurdwara in 2012, we led a multi-year advocacy campaign to push the FBI to track anti-Sikh hate; it is thanks to that effort that we see this data today. 

The Sikh Coalition’s policy and advocacy team is still analyzing the data to learn more, as specifics about the Ohio incidents are not yet publicly available. We will, however, continue to provide more updates on this and our broader efforts to combat and prevent hate in the United States.

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