On May 28, 2021, President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which includes the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act of 2021. This legislation is an important step to countering the threat of hate in America and the first significant piece of federal hate crimes legislation in 12 years. This bill will improve how hate crimes are reported by law enforcement to help better protect communities. 

The Sikh Coalition has advocated for better hate crime reporting and victim support services since our founding in the aftermath of 9/11 and was among the first civil rights organizations to support the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act when it was first introduced in 2019 and when Congress reintroduced it in April 2021. 

The Sikh Coalition would like to thank Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and the Arab American Institute for their leadership in this important piece of federal legislation, as well as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Impact

The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act was named in honor of two hate crime victims, Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, whose murders were prosecuted as hate crimes but not appropriately included in hate crime statistics. This bill will modernize the federal hate crime reporting system and encourage state and local law enforcement to report hate crime statistics to the federal government. It will also create opportunities to rehabilitate hate crime offenders by giving them the option of learning more about the community they targeted and participating in community service projects. Lastly, this bill will create better hate crime victim support and assistance services like hate crime reporting hotlines. 

Why It Matters

In 2013, after a successful three-year campaign by the Sikh Coalition, the FBI agreed to track anti-Sikh hate crimes, giving policymakers official data about anti-Sikh violence for the first time in our nation’s history. Since the FBI started tabulating this data in 2015, anti-Sikh hate crimes have seen, on average, a year over year increase exceeding 100%; Sikhs are currently one of the top five most-targeted faith groups. Even worse, based on the Sikh Coalition’s own reporting, these shocking numbers published by the FBI still only capture a fraction of the hate crimes Sikhs experience in the United States.

Hate crime data collected by the FBI does not account for all of the hate crimes faced by vulnerable communities due to inadequate training and the lack of incentives local and state law enforcement agencies have in reporting hate crime statistics to the FBI. Additionally, other challenges hinder hate crime reporting, including a lack of trust with law enforcement and personal stigmas. Measures like the NO HATE Act are essential to helping to address these challenges, and the Sikh Coalition will continue working tirelessly with state and federal policymakers to bring forward solutions to reduce hate crimes affecting our communities.