UNITED SIKHS
October 14 2010
30th Assu (Samvat 542 Nanakshahi)
Press Release

Sikhs Partner with US Attorney’s Office to Host Diversity Training Forum for Law Enforcement Agencies

Highlights

  • Several law enforcement agencies met with UNITED SIKHS members to discuss ways to train their staff about issues and concerns that affect Sikhs after extensive discussions with the Sikh community.

  • The Diversity Training Forum consisted of a training video, followed by a presentation on Sikh identity, Kakaars, and civil rights advocacy issues such as hate crimes, school bullying, racial profiling and mistaken identity.

  • County Sheriff offered to work with Sikhs in training various governmental departments including civil courts.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: Continuing the series of town hall meetings that are part of the Sikh Awareness initiative in North Carolina, UNITED SIKHS partnered with The United States Attorney’s office to host a forum on Sikh Identity and Cultural Awareness Diversity Training for several law enforcement agencies on September 29, 2010.  The forum took place as a result of extensive discussions with the Sikh community. The forum provided a solid platform to outline some common issues and concerns faced by Sikh community members due to their unique identity. This forum not only educated law enforcement staff but also allowed for an opportunity to collaborate and share ideas regarding community outreach, education and empowerment.

The meeting was coordinated by US Attorney, Anne M. Tompkins and District Program Manager, Frederick E. Hudson. In addition, it was attended by 10 representatives from different law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), Mecklenburg County Sheriff, Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Anne Tomkins highlighted the importance of such forums in fostering community engagement. “Smaller forums such as this are more effective in generating a dialogue and planting seeds of knowledge. Local relationship building is one of the most effective ways to make communities safer and vibrant,” she said.

 
Pushpinder Singh making a presentation   Pawanjit Singh with Ms Anne Tompkins, US Attorney

The 90 minute meeting started with a training video, followed by a presentation on Sikh identity, Kakaars, and civil rights advocacy issues such as hate crimes, school bullying, racial profiling, and mistaken identity. Mecklenburg County Sheriff Daniel Bailey noted that the training video was very effective in educating him about Sikhs and requested additional copies of the video. He also offered to work with the community to show the video to his department including to law enforcement staff in county courts.

Amandeep Singh, School Outreach Coordinator for UNITED SIKHS, was encouraged by the gathering in the Forum and stated, “Having several law enforcement agencies in one room gave us an effective collaborative platform for community awareness and outreach”.

Project Leader  Pushpinder Singh said, “Knowledge& Education is the key to addressing several civil rights issue being faced by the Sikh community. The Forum encouraged a multi-faceted dialogue and is one of many steps towards the UNITED SIKHS Protect Our Identity campaign”.

UNITED SIKHS team raised several issues including those faced by community members at DMV offices, schools, courthouses and airports. Travel experiences and TSA surveys were shared with Ms. Sandra Holding, Assistant Federal Security Director for Charlotte Airport. UNITED SIKHS will continue working with these people and groups to educate and inform institutions about the issues faced by the Sikh community.

Earlier this month, UNITED SIKHS hosted a focus group session with U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The session was attended by Fred Hudson from the US Attorney's office and Walter Atkinson from the DOJ Community Relations Services (CRS) department. In addition, eight UNITED SIKHS volunteers from the North and South Carolina area were in attendance. Several collaborative action items and next steps were identified to address key community needs with respect to school education, hate crimes, diversity training, and media relations.

 
Mr. Kartar Singh speaking to Mr Walter Atkinson during focus group session   Community members with Mr Fred Hudson and Mr Walter Atkinson after the focus group meeting
 
Mr Atkinson speaking to the community at Charlotte Gurdwara   Community members after the town hall with Department of Justice at Charlotte Gurdwara

Following the meeting, Mr. Atkinson said, “The focus group session was great. We were able to have meaningful discussions on the issues, identify solutions, and outline a few strategies for implementation. Fred and I were able to explain the jurisdiction of our respective agencies and what partnership role we can play to help the Sikhs community”.

UNITED SIKHS is grateful to Ms. Tomkins and Mr. Hudson for hosting the Forum. Their commitment to community outreach was exemplary. UNITED SIKHS would also like to thank Dr. Surendrapal Singh and management of Charlotte Gurdwara for their continued support.

To view a previous press release on the advocacy work in North and South Carolina, please visit: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-11-09-2010-00.html

Issued By:
Pawanjit Singh
Director
1-888-243-1690
law-usa@unitedsikhs.org

PROTECT OUR IDENTITY CAMPAIGN


Protect Our Identity (POI) is an ongoing international campaign launched by UNITED SIKHS in August 2010 . It focuses on the need to protect the Sikh community's right to express its religious identity.  Initiatives under the POI campaign include: 


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