California Assembly member Judy Chu
, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes
, recently convened two hearings to hear testimony and policy recommendations on hate crimes in the Sikh American Community. The hearings took place in both Northern and Southern California and community members testified regarding specific hate incidents including bullying and harassment in school, their places of work, and Sikh Gurdwaras.
SMART’s Western Regional Director Kavneet Singh (on the extreme right in the photo) delivered testimony and organized other members of the Sikh American community to speak about their experiences in Northern California on September 22. On September 28, in Southern California, SMART local representative Nitasha Kaur Sawhney testified about the impact on the community, especially drawing attention to the severe effect on Sikh children, as well as the physical, economic, mental, and spiritual impact hate violence is having on the community at large. Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/saldef/24731-saldef-testifies-at-california-assembly-hearings.htmlReference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=24731
The hearings also included policy recommendations regarding reporting practices and resources provided by local and national governmental agencies. The testimony highlighted the unresolved problem of recording hate crimes against Sikhs due to state and federal agencies not collecting data specifically on anti-Sikh incidents as they do for incidents against the Islamic and Jewish communities. Unfortunately, most hate crimes against Sikh Americans are recorded as “other.” Another focus of this hearing included policy recommendations related to education, including the use of current resources and development of additional diversity curriculum.
In addition to SMART, panelists at the hearing included representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, FBI, LA County Sheriff's Department, Asian Law Caucus, California Sikh Council, Sikh Coalition, San Jose and San Francisco Police Departments, UCLA API Caucus, South Asian Network, Sikh Dharma, and the California Department of Education.