WASHINGTON, DC, USA—Today, in its first official action since being formed by Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21) and Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27) last month, the American Sikh Congressional Caucus sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice calling for the inclusion of an anti-Sikh hate crime category on the Hate Crime Incident Report (Form I-699). The letter, which was signed by 23 Members of Congress, follows a prolonged string of attacks against the Sikh community, including the shooting at a Gurdwara last August that claimed six innocent lives, and the brutal beating of an elderly Sikh man in Fresno, California earlier this month with a steel pipe. The caucus Co-Chairs released the following statements:
“With thousands of Sikhs living in the Central Valley, the recent attack in Fresno had a direct impact on our community,” said Congressman Valadao. “However, this attack was not an isolated incident. For many years, hateful crimes against Sikhs have taken place across America. By specifically tracking hate crimes against Sikhs we can assist law enforcement in reducing and preventing future crimes.
“In the face of continued violence targeting American Sikhs across the country, we must act to ensure the safety and well-being of this community,” said Rep. Chu. “The common thread between attacks like those in Fresno, Oak Creek and Elk Grove is that they were driven by ignorance and hate. We are calling for an anti-Sikh hate crime statistic so law enforcement can properly categorize, track, and ultimately work to prevent these horrible acts.”
Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many in the Sikh community have seen an increase in hate crimes and bias-based bullying because of their religion. According to Sikh Coalition surveys, approximately 10 percent of Sikhs in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area alone have experienced physical violence or property damage because of their religion.
According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, rates of bullying against Sikh children “range from roughly half to over three-quarters.” Recent Sikh Coalition research suggests that 67 percent of devout Sikh students in Fresno, California have experienced bias-based bullying because of their religion.
Including an anti-Sikh category is an important step in confronting violent hate crimes and increasing public awareness about these crimes. It will add to efforts by Rep. Joe Crowley and the over 100 other members who have pushed for the FBI to collect these statistics. This will help law enforcement officers in every locality to do all they can to prevent violence against the Sikh community.
The American Sikh Congressional Caucus was formed by Representatives Chu and Valadao to provide a voice for the Sikh community in America. Thirty-three Members of Congress have joined the caucus to focus on the following issues:
• Military discrimination preventing American Sikhs from enlisting due to restrictive appearance regulations that ban turbans
• Violence against American Sikhs that has increased in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001
• Bullying being experienced by as many as three in every four Sikh boys
• Racial profiling
• Employment discrimination
Congressman David G. Valadao represents the 21st Congressional District, which includes Kings County and portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties.