For Immediate Release
Primary Press Contact: Mark Reading-Smith
Media & Communications Director, the Sikh Coalition
Secondary Press Contact: Jagmeet Singh
Media & Communications Manager, the Sikh Coalition
April 3, 2017 (Washington, D.C.) – Today, 13 U.S. Senators led by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), called on the Trump administration to launch a new Presidential Task Force to prevent hate violence.
Pointing to the success of previous White House task forces, the letter envisions government agencies and grassroots community groups working together proactively to share resources and best practices to save lives and stem the growth of hate violence.
“Across the United States, we have seen hate violence and threats against religious and racial minorities become more and more commonplace. Just last month, a Sikh American man was shot and wounded in Kent, Washington. These crimes and threats of violence fly in the face of our core values of tolerance, respect, and freedom of religion,” said Senator Cantwell. “Today, my colleagues and I are urging President Trump to create a new Presidential Task Force on preventing and combating hate violence to begin an important national dialogue on how best to counter hate. Together, we can put a stop to the rise in hate across our country.”
On March 3rd, a 39-year-old Sikh man was shot near Seattle after the gunman allegedly told him to “go back to your own country.” On February 22nd, a Hindu man, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was shot and killed in Olathe, Kansas after the attacker yelled, “get out of my country.” The first three months of 2017 have witnessed steady reports of harassment, threats and violence against religious minorities in the United States and their places of worship.
“We applaud Senator Cantwell and her colleagues for recommending concrete action to prevent hate violence,” said Rajdeep Singh Jolly, Interim Managing Director of Programs at the Sikh Coalition. “As Americans, we expect accountability from our national leaders and hope the White House will do everything in its power to prevent the loss of lives and loved ones to hate.”
Since September 11, 2001, the Sikh Coalition estimates that a Sikh American is hundreds of times more likely to be the victim of a hate crime than the average American, often because Sikhs wear turbans and maintain unshorn beards. These articles of faith remind Sikhs to uphold their religious ideals, which include a commitment to community service, social justice, and universal human rights. Sikh Americans have been an integral part of the American fabric for over 125 years.
“Hate impacts us all,” said Seattle-area Sikh community leader, Jasmit Singh. “We must do more to combat it in local communities across the United States and that starts with our federal officials making prevention of hate violence a top priority.”
Joining Senator Cantwell in signing the letter were Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
The Sikh Coalition is the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States and has 15 years of legal and policy expertise on issues related to hate crimes. For more information about the Sikh community or for potential interviews, please contact Mark Reading-Smith or Jagmeet Singh.