WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25, 2015 —The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) commented today on the release of the updated FBI Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Manual, considered the single most important and inclusive hate crime training resource available for law enforcement officials. This version now includes a special considerations section to help local police officials effectively identify and report the new categories of crime mandated for collection in 2015 – including hate crimes directed at Sikhs, Arabs, and Hindus. SALDEF, alongside Sikh advocates and other civil rights groups, worked closely to counsel FBI officials on the Sikh community’s needs throughout this process. We encourage the FBI to continue to improve the manual and law enforcement training to ensure appropriate classification of crimes where a Sikh is targeted for his or her articles of faith.
In 2010, Jasjit Singh, SALDEF’s executive director, first presented to the FBI’s Advisory Policy Board in Boston, making a case for the need for a Sikh category. In February 2012, he subsequently met with then FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on behalf of the Sikh community, alongside leaders of other civil rights groups including the Interfaith Alliance, Muslim Public Affairs Council and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Jasjit Singh commented, “The release of the updated Hate Crimes Tracking form and manual, a reform Sikh Americans and SALDEF have advocated towards for half a decade, marks a step towards ensuring accurate reporting of hate crimes committed against Sikhs, an important step that will ultimately aid the Sikh community as we continue to address the roots of anti-Sikh bias. Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, South Asian, and Arab Americans have disproportionately faced senseless violence motivated by hate in recent years. We look forward to continuing our work with the FBI to ensure law enforcement is addressing the Sikh community’s needs. Today reminds us why working together as partners is so important. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and only together will we address the root of this hate.”
Following the August 2012 attacks on the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, over 140 Members of Congress joined the years of calls by members of the Sikh American community with their partners Rep. Joe Crowley, Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. David Valadao, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein urging the FBI to track hate crimes against the Sikh American community. In 2013, the Department of Justice and the FBI announced they would begin to track hate crimes against Sikh Americans and other communities, beginning this year with the release of the new hate crimes tracking form.
The FBI’s manual also includes updated definitions and training scenarios to help officers better serve their diverse communities. SALDEF, using the findings of Turban Myths, the first-ever study on the public perception of Sikh Americans, shared the impacts of unconscious and implicit bias towards Sikhs in order to inform these future FBI trainings. Turban Myths resulted from a collaboration between SALDEF and Stanford University researchers and continues to be covered by major media for its ability to pinpoint the roots of anti-Sikh bias in the United States. In 2015 and beyond, trainings will be conducted nationwide by certified Sikh American trainers as part our Law Enforcement Partnership Program.