February 28, 2024 (Seattle, WA) — Last week, members of the Sikh Coalition team went to Washington state to engage with sangat members and state legislators. 

The week started with our staff leading a civic engagement training to more than 25 Sikh advocates, most of them young students. During this training, attendees learned how to find their state elected officials’ contact information and how to have effective meetings with them where they can discuss legislation and issues that matter to the sangat. We followed up this engagement with visits to four area gurdwaras, where we discussed aspects of our work—including the upcoming school climate report.

Additionally, the Sikh Coalition, in partnership with the Soch Center, took a significant step towards enhancing the safety of our religious spaces by organizing a comprehensive security seminar at the Bothell Gurudwara attended by representatives from multiple gurdwaras. This event featured experts from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, who shared their suggestions on proactive measures and strategies to bolster the security of our gurdwaras; their presentations covered a range of topics, from physical security enhancements to community engagement strategies that foster a safer environment. 

Following the weekend’s events, the youth advocates then got to put their training to use during two Sikh advocacy days at the state capital in Olympia, where they talked about two bills that the Sikh Coalition is supporting:

  • SB 5427: Establishes a non-police hate crime hotline within the State Attorney General’s office, providing vital resources and support services for individuals who have experienced bias or hate-motivated crimes, and facilitating the collection of crucial data to better understand and address hate crimes statewide.
  • SB 5917 : Expands Washington’s hate crime law to include offenses committed on public property, ensuring that perpetrators of hate-motivated crimes are held accountable for their actions, regardless of where the offense occurs.

Passing these bills will boost public safety, create real resources for victims, and send a clear message that hate has no place in Washington. We look forward to sangat members advocating for these bills, and we are hopeful for their bipartisan passage into law given that Washington continues to be one of the most dangerous states for Sikhs. In the meantime, the Sikh Coalition will continue to engage with the Washington sangat on a range of issues, including follow-up from our gurdwara security conversations.

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