Fateh! Sikhi Now Included in Connecticut’s State Social Studies Standards
On October 4, Connecticut joined 17 other states and Washington, DC, in adding Sikhi to its state social studies curriculum. This development, which will give approximately 514,000 public school students in Connecticut the opportunity to learn about the Sikh community, came as a result of a year of advocacy by the Sikh Coalition and the Connecticut sangat. Learn more about our efforts to achieve this important victory here.
New Resource for Law Enforcement Investigating and Prosecuting Anti-Sikh Hate Crimes
On October 19, the Sikh Coalition released a new resource directed to law enforcement agencies titled ‘Guide to Investigating and Prosecuting Bias/Hate-Motivated Crimes Against Sikhs.’ This guide is a first-of-its-kind product meant to aid both police and prosecutors; it includes background on the Sikh community and faith, information about hate crimes and bias incidents, an overview of the applicable laws related to hate crimes, detailed case studies, and a detailed visual glossary that depicts various terms and phrases related to Sikhi.
This new resource is an effort to ensure better protection under the law for our community. If you or your gurdwara has a preexisting relationship with local law enforcement, we encourage you to share the guide with your contacts: you can find it for free on our website here.
California Updates and Bay Area Engagement
The Sikh Coalition remains deeply involved in legal, advocacy, and education work in California—the U.S. state home to the largest Sikh population. Updates this month included the successful passage of AB 449, a hate crimes bill that our staff have worked for more than three years to pass, as well as the disappointing veto of SB 403, a historic effort to ban caste discrimination. Learn more about our ongoing work in California and the many victories we’ve achieved working with and for the sangat here.
Additionally, from October 12 to 23, Sikh Coalition staff also traveled to the Bay Area. Our activities included numerous gurdwara workshops, a volunteer training event, meetings with elected officials and allied organizations, a donor meet-and-greet, and more. We are grateful to all of the sevadaars and gurdwaras who welcomed us into their spaces and shared more about the challenges and opportunities of our sangat in California. We look forward to joining the 44th Annual Yuba City Nagar Kirtan next month.
Responding to Hate in Queens
Two serious incidents have profoundly affected the sangat in Queens, NY, over the past month. While the Sikh Coalition’s ability to act on both cases is limited because we have not been retained to provide services by the affected individuals and their families, we are monitoring both cases closely.
On October 15, a 19-year-old Sikh man was assaulted on a New York City bus; his attacker struck him in the head, specifically targeting his turban. The perpetrator was arrested and charged with a hate crime; the Sikh Coalition spoke with the young man to offer legal guidance, and released an anonymous statement from him to the media. On October 21, 66-year-old Jasmer Singh passed from injuries he sustained two days prior; Mr. Singh was viciously assaulted during an altercation following a car accident. His attacker has been arrested as well, but was not immediately charged with a hate crime. On October 25, the Sikh Coalition sent a letter to the New York Police Department urging them to consider all motives, including bias, in the investigation into Mr. Singh’s death and disclose their findings and reasoning to the public. On October 31, after advocacy from the Queens sangat, the suspect was arraigned with hate crime enhancements added.
Ensuring Accurate Representation on Capitol Hill
Following the surprise announcement of a so-called “Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain Congressional Caucus” late in September, the Sikh Coalition continues our efforts to ensure that Sikhs are accurately and genuinely represented on Capitol Hill. We worked closely with Hindus for Human Rights and other Sikh and Muslim organizations to pen an initial letter outlining our concerns to the caucus’ founder, Congressman Shri Thanedar (D-MI), and then took a meeting with the congressman to seek further clarification. Based on our conversations, we then authored another letter from Sikh organizations (including Ensaaf, the Jakara Movement, and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund), helped coordinate a sign-on letter by Michigan gurdwaras, and enlisted the support of allied organizations in Michigan. Learn more about this caucus and why it matters here.
FBI Data Shows Anti-Sikh Victimizations at an All-Time High
On October 16, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released its annual report of hate crimes statistics, reflecting information about hate crimes for 2022. The data reflect the highest-ever reported number of hate crime victimizations, with a 7 percent increase from 2021 to 2022. Religiously motivated hate crime victimizations were at their highest since 2001, with an increase of 17 percent since 2021; anti-Sikh hate crime victimizations were recorded by the FBI as the highest number ever at 198, and Sikhs still remain the second-most targeted group in the nation for religiously-motivated hate crime incidents.
This FBI data underscores the need for stronger initiatives by the federal government—especially as both international conflicts and divisive political rhetoric (in the United States and abroad) that demonizes marginalized groups continues to fuel more acts of hate against multiple different communities. We also continue to argue that the FBI’s numbers understand the scope of hate in America, given that fewer and fewer law enforcement agencies participate in this reporting effort. Read our full analysis of the data here.
Gurdwara Security Engagement
At the beginning of this month, the Sikh Coalition published an update on our gurdwara security work—including our attendance at a tabletop exercise hosted by the White House, a new federal toolkit on which we were pleased to advise, and our continuing efforts to facilitate security consultations for gurdwaras across the country. Learn more about these important efforts here.
Sikh Coalition Presents on Civic Engagement at the Singh and Kaur Retreat
On October 1, the Sikh Coalition led a Civic Engagement Training with young Sikh professionals at the Singh & Kaur Retreat in Jackson, MI,. This training was designed to better equip rising Sikh community leaders with the tools and resources to create positive local change and included hands-on workshops to develop these skills.
Sikh Coalition Joins Interfaith Education Panel on Capitol Hill
On October 18, the Sikh Coalition was proud to join a panel discussion titled Banned Beliefs: How People of Diverse Faiths are Fighting to Protect Our Public Schools and Libraries. Joining allies including the American Library Association, Students Engaged in Advancing Texas, and the Interfaith Alliance, we discussed how our communities can fight back against efforts to ban books that are inclusive of different communities, as well as the wider nationwide campaign to constrain public schools and libraries in service of extreme political and religious views. Learn more about this conversation, and how it connects to our work in favor of safe and inclusive schools, here.
On October 31, the Sikh Coalition joined Sikhs around the world to pause in remembrance of the genocidal violence that began against our community on that day in 1984. Unfortunately, the need to remember our history—and the associated issues of state repression and impunity—are arguably more relevant today than ever before, in light of international concerns around transnational repression against Sikhs by the Indian government. Read our reflection and review critical resources here.
Sikh Coalition Launches End-of-Year Fundraising
Even as all of the Sikh Coalition’s legal, advocacy, community development, education, and media work is continuing at a rapid pace, the calendar year is winding down—which means that it is time for us to launch our end-of-year fundraising campaign. Our collective goal this year is to raise $1.25 million, but we won’t be able to hit that goal without your investment and your action. Read a note from our Development Director announcing our end-of-year fundraising effort here, and consider making your donation online today! We are humbled by your previous support, and ask that you deepen your investment in our shared work as we look to 2024 and beyond.