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United Sikhs Courtroom Victory! New Policy on Harassment and Non-discrimination in Place.

Discussion in 'Sikh Organisations' started by Tejwant Singh, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Courtroom Victory!
    New Policy on Harassment and Non-discrimination in Place.​


    UNITED SIKHS advocated for policy amendments after Sikh was asked to remove turban in courtroom.

    The Pike County Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual now includes the harassment and non-discrimination policy.

    Civil Rights Complaint was filed with the Department of Justice(DOJ) after which policy was voted into place by Pike County Board of Supervisors. It is applicable to all Pike County employees.

    A copy of the new policy can be viewed by clicking here (at the site given below).

    Pike County, Mississippi- After filing a Civil Rights Complaint with the Department of Justice and persistent advocacy, the Pike County Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual now includes the harassment and non-discrimination policy. UNITED SIKHS welcomes this new policy.

    Jagjeet Singh “I was in Mississippi, a place far away from my home in California when the two unfortunate incidents happened- First my arrest for wearing a Kirpan, and later, the shocking incident where I was escorted out of the courtroom by several Highway Patrolmen and asked to remove my turban because the judge didn’t like it. If it were not for UNITED SIKHS timely help, my situation could have become worse. They came to my rescue both times, provided all legal assistance and ensured that my issues were taken care of. I can’t thank them enough. Also, I am extremely happy that their efforts have borne fruit in that a new

    Harassment and Non-Discrimination policy has been put into place for all Pike County employees. This is a great achievement. I am very happy that no other devout Sikh, Jew, Muslim or person of any other faith who wears religious head covering will have to undergo what I had to in Pike County, Mississippi."

    On March 26, 2013, Jagjeet Singh, an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh, appeared for a hearing at the Pike County Justice Court in Magnolia, Mississippi, but was escorted out of the courtroom on the orders of a judge by several highway patrolmen. The patrolmen asked Mr.Singh to either remove his “hat” or not enter the courtroom because the judge didn’t like it. Mr.Singh refused to remove his dastaar (turban).

    The events leading to this court hearing were also distasteful. Mr.Singh was initially stopped and detained because his truck had a burst tire, but was arrested for not obeying the officer’s orders to remove his kirpan (small sheathed ceremonial sword). His pleas not to remove, or force him to remove his kirpan and his explanation about its religious importance were ignored. Singh also reports being mistreated and mocked at by the detaining officers.

    Our legal team worked together with local counsel in Mississippi who were engaged by UNITED SIKHS to represent Mr.Singh at his court hearing. Our counsel negotiated with the local prosecutor and the arresting officer not to pursue any charges and so, Mr.Singh was released. But what transpired in court that day was shocking- Singh was asked to remove his dastaar (turban). He was in the present situation because he had stood up for his freedom of religion, for his mandated religious practices and he was again put in a similar situation when the judge asked for this dastaar (turban) to be removed.

    The efforts and support of local counsel, Ms.LeeAnn Slipher, are much appreciated as she stood up for her client. Slipher became a witness to the incident for the record, and was extremely supportive during Mr.Singh's ordeal in court.

    UNITED SIKHS would also like to thank the DOJ Civil Rights Division, especially Mr. Michael Mule’ for handling this matter and for working towards ensuring a positive outcome thus avoiding further discriminatory incidents like these.

    You can read the policy here.
    “This policy is a step in the right direction and a great achievement not only for Sikhs, but for people of all faiths. It should work to ensure that nobody is discriminated against because of his/her outward religious appearance and genuine religious beliefs,” said UNITED SIKHS’ Staff Attorney Manmeet Singh.

    We also extend our gratitude to American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) President Ms. Susan Herman, ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Ms. Heather Weaver, and Legal Director of ACLU Mississippi Ms.Bear Atwood who have been very supportive and are working with us on further matters related to this case.

    We encourage you to practice your faith fearlessly. We humbly request you to support us so we can continue to fight for everyone’s right to identity.
    You may read a previous report on UNITED SIKHS' advocacy for the Sikh community here.

    For media inquiries, please contact media-usa@unitedsikhs.org
    Issued By:
    Manmeet Singh
    Staff Attorney, International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
    Tel: 1-646-688-3525
    law@unitedsikhs.org
    www.unitedsikhs.org
    Contact us | Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
     

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  3. jaginder

    jaginder
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    It's great how this turned out.
    However, at the risk of sounding like a devil's advocate (no pun intended hehehe).
    Why couldn't he remove his kirpan when he was asked by the cops?
    I understand he may feel that its of religious importance and I am all for religious freedoms of any faith so long as it does not encroach in to my rights.
    I am of the opinion that, he could have complied and it would not have diminished the man that he is.
    Before anyone snaps at me for seeing the tree missing the forest stuff, hear me out.

    Had the cops be a little jumpier this gentleman could have been shot. How would one console his family then?
    The cops were ignorant so he should know better.

    And is Sikhi that literal that you are not to remove your kirpan under any circumstances?
    What about when you are flying?

    Again, please don't misunderstand my intentions here. On the surface its looks all glossy, lets get the dhol out and celebrate. But, look deeper and I see a prevailing problem in every religion with overzealous practitioners.

    This is my opinion and forgive me if you think I am being too negative or that this offends you.
     
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    #2 jaginder, Sep 5, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  4. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Yes, you are being a Devil's advocate but not a good one because your devilish advocacy is not based on facts which can be found by asking Mr. Google.

    Following are the laws of the state of Mississippi regarding semi/concealed knife:

    So according to the law in bold, he had every right to have his kirpan on when his car had a flat tyre.

    Having said that, your devilish advocacy is just on the partial events that took place. He was kicked out of the courtroom because of his turban.So, if one takes your same logic a bit farther and acts as a devil's advocate, he should have taken his turban off too in front of the judge. It would not have made him less of a Sikh according to you. Right?

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  5. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    jaginder ji

    There are 2 part to the problem on the ground. There are no laws against carrying a knife, as long as it is single-edged and not a switchblade, in the open in the US, although some municipalities have restrictions. As a matter of fact a knife must be carried open. The second part is that Singh was wearing his kirpan as an amritdhari, So we put these together and an amritdhari Sikh was carrying per the SRM a kirpan and it is not against the law.

    Yes... on a practical note... it might make sense to comply if the police were particularly "jumpy" or even belligerent. Police making an arrest also can ask anyone to hand over anything that could be perceived as a threat to their safety as arresting officers, baseball bats, tire irons or kirpans not excluded. Yet, educating law enforcement has to be a priority for Sikhs. His wearing a turban must have factored into the police reaction also. Many local police departments have specialized training about kirpan; this department apparently did not. So the story has a happy ending because one Sikh in the heart of the south of the US made an issue of his right to carry kirpan. Everyone won in the end.
     
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  6. jaginder

    jaginder
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    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    First, I was not arguing the merit of the case. So please lets not get technical and start quoting legal facts as I am not questioning that. I have only questioned the part about kirpans, not once I brought up the turban so please don't muddle the topic here.
    My point is, what should have been the right respond when law the enforcement officers (people with guns). There is no question about his right here.
    The question is what advise would you give if your child/love one if they to face such a situation.

    As per being removed from the court room due to judges ignorance and perhaps prejudice. I obvious did not bring that up because that was another matter though the arrest was a catalyst. I did not say he should comply here.

    As I am writing this I am also noticing snpadmin ji's respond which shows he understood my reasoning and perhaps appreciates my point better. I agree that if he sensed that the cops were not jumpy then by all means.
    I would also like to make a suggestion as a human being, should one be arrested for carrying your kirpan or wearing your turban, asses the situation. If you feel the situation is risky, please, please comply. Then if you feel that your rights have been violated, by all means, take any legal course of action.
    Or perhaps surrender yourself peacefully after the fact as an act of defiance so that the case can be heard later where common sense usually prevails just like how his removal of the turban was resolved.

    I also agree one must strive to educate ones believe to. Its through these education and understanding trust are built.
    An yes, the out on this case was a happy ending due to hard work and understanding.


    Being a devil's advocate and devilish advocacy are two separate things.
    And by the way Tejwant Ji, should facts always override common sense?

    You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.
    Stay cool my wise brother.
     
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  7. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Jaginder ji,

    Guru Fateh.


    You sound upset from your post, I have no idea why. I apologise if my response made you upset. That was not the intention.

    Now let's go through your both posts to create some understanding with open-mindedness.

    You write in your initial post:

    As he is not breaking any law according to the code, then he is not doing anything wrong. So, it is the merit of the case we are talking about.

    The law of the state says it is OK to carry a knife/kirpan. Religion has nothing to do with it. It was simple profiling because of his turban in a state like Mississippi in the south which was deep into segregation and many people still carry that feeling.
    He had every right to carry his Kirpan. If he had threatened the officers with it, then it is a different story. And, yes it is all related to the merits of the case.
    Why would you think anyone would snap at you? This forum is meant for interaction where disagreements are also part and parcel of the learning process as per Sikhi traits.

    Aren't we jumping the gun here? no pun intended. Is there any part of the news that indicates that the cops felt threatened by him so they had to shoot him? Is this you call being devil's advocate?

    Who should know better at that time is very relative when one is an innocent person who got a flat tyre and is trying to change it. As he was posing no threat, and the cops are trained how to react in that situation.

    Pardon my ignorance but I see no point in your above statement.I have no idea what you have against amritdhari Sikhs

    Get the dhol out for what? Please elaborate. We are just trying to understand the matter and educate the police forces, which I often participate in.

    Please define who are these overzealous practitioners you are talking about?

    Your second post:

    Of course you were arguing about the merits of the case and Kirpan is part of the legalities as mentioned in the code.

    I know you did not bring up the turban which was surprising because you talked about the "overzealous practitioners" and turban is part of it so is it part of the case we are talking about. We can not take just one part of it because the news relates to both the things.

    Now, the advice is very well documented thanks to this brave overzealous practitioner of Sikhi and the excellent work by the United Sikhs. Sikhs would feel safe in the state and especially in the county because now they understand more about Sikhi. This work is continuously done in all the states in the US by the advocacy groups.

    It is part of the same story and the same case. Separating the two is unjust and unfair

    Spnadmin ji is a very wise person. I also understood your reasoning. It shows that you did not understand nor did you appreciate my response.:)

    Has this happened to anyone you know or to yourself? I find no reason for anyone to be arrested or barred from appearing in front of the court in a turban. I know many Sikh lawyers who have argued the cases in from of the SCOTUS ( Supreme Court of The US) in their turbans. No one can arrest you carrying a kirpan if you are not brandishing it to the police. It does not happen because it makes no sense.

    Exactly. Education is very important and for that to happen, we Sikhs have to come out of the four walls of our Gurdwaras and introduce ourselves to the society we live in. In this case, as in many cases, it is our duty as Sikhs to educate the Police forces and others about us.

    It was tongue in cheek. Too bad you did not get the humour.:)

    When the facts are lawful, then they are part of the common sense.

    You will get used to this forum. Interaction is nothing about clenched fists nor are the disagreements. As mentioned before, they are part of the learning process. So, please do not mind or clench your fists if people disagree with your opinion.

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  8. jaginder

    jaginder
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    Not upset,yet...but yes lets open OUR mind.





    I have stated at least twice that I am not arguing the merit of the case which means I AGREE that his case has merit. Maybe that's not getting through you.

    The world is full of different people with varying qualities with vary tolerance level. Anyways, it was supposed to be rhetoric but fill free to take it literally :)

    You lost me here. Relevance? Perhaps we are at a totally different wave length.

    Cops are humans. Otherwise, we won't be talking about this now. I am sure you heard of trigger happy cops involved with wrongful deaths of innocent people?

    This takes the cake. Now I am upset that you accuse me of having something against Amrithari Sikhs. Where in that statement suggest that? Is asking that question means I am against Amrithari Sikhs? Pretty judgmental don't you think? Instead of trying to answer this question you accuse me not very nice bro.

    Again, rhetorical (dhol). Good for you.

    Anyone who insist on their religious believe without the realising others may not understand it enough to appreciate their sentiments. To the other party one would be seen as overzealous. But what do I know right? I am just someone that has something against Amrithari Sikhs.

    Your second post:



    Note above not arguing. The turban incident is separate as my point was about keeping oneself safe during such situations.


    Yes. agreed.



    Again its not the same thing. Just because you say so does not make it so. I have. been talking about how one should react when you are confronted by police regardless how well trained they might be.

    I am still not sure you did :)




    hasn't happen to me but what does that got to do with it?

    Neither do I.

    Again not the point. Men with gun vs your kirpan I am of the opinion one should comply.



    Yep.

     
    #7 jaginder, Sep 5, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013

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