Attention:​Venue Change for Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes on September 19th

Community Update
Washington DC, DC: The Senate Judiciary Hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Extremism is today,  Wednesday, September 19th at 2:30 pm (Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216 – Please note the location change). 

Even though the hearing is today, there are still many ways that your organization can show its support as well as resources to assist you.

1.       Attend the hearing and post-hearing press conference:  We need to pack the hearing room to emphasize the importance of these issues to all communities.  Also, a press conference will be held at approximately 4:30pm (immediately after the hearing) outside of the hearing room featuring allies supporting the hearing.  Please attend and encourage colleagues, local affiliates, and constituents to attend!  If you plan to attend, please fill out this RSVP form created by the Sikh Coalition so that we can get a sense of the number of people attending and the necessary space required.  If you cannot attend, you can also stream it here.

2.       Issue a press release or write an op-ed.  Press releases are of the utmost importance in order to spread the word regarding this hearing nationally and should be issued the Wednesday morning (tomorrow).  Additionally, op-eds are extremely helpful in making the public aware of the hearing and the importance of this hearing to your communities.  We encourage organizations to submit op-eds of no longer than 700 words to online media in order to have them published in a timely fashion.

  3.       Tweet during the hearing:  The hashtag is #antihate if you or your organization wishes to tweet.  Please tweet frequently!

4.       Submit an organizational statement for the record:  The record remains open for a week after the hearing and organizations can still submit statements of the record until that time (though they will not be referenced during Wednesday’s hearing).   (Note:  Please see below for information from the ACLU on messaging regarding “domestic extremism.”) . All statements must be emailed to Stephanie Trifone at stephanie_trifone@judiciary-dem.senate.gov by Wednesday, September 26th at 5 p.m. EDT / 4 p.m. CDT / 3 p.m. PDT.  Feel free to bcc law-usa@unitedsikhs.org and info@saalt.org  when submitting your statement.

*Message from the ACLU:  Though the title of the hearing includes the phrase “domestic extremism,” there are concerns regarding this phrase and the fundamental First Amendment issues it raises. Primarily, the concern is that using the language “domestic extremism” rather than “violent extremists” puts the focus on ideas the government considers extreme, rather than illegal action taken by individuals.   The ACLU and other First Amendment advocacy groups worked with the Homeland Security Committees back in 2007 when “domestic radicalization” was their preferred euphemism and persuaded them to instead use “violent extremism,” which has become the common phraseology.  While this was not the preferred outcome (the preference was “violent extremists” because the “ism” still suggests a focus on ideology rather than action), it was successful in that the government acknowledged that the focus should be on violence rather than ideas.  The government has used the radicalization theory and the pursuit of “extremism” as a justification for investigating and monitoring both religious communities and political activists.  Peaceful advocacy organizations of all types have been subjected to the same sorts of over-aggressive enforcement tactics (ubiquitous surveillance, aggressive informants, sting operations, etc.) as have minority religious communities, and there is a risk of alienating them based on the inadvertent suggestion that the government can target them for their ideas and activism.  The ACLU urges the use of the term “violent extremist” so that law enforcement focuses on violent actions and the people who commit them, rather than ideas that the government may consider outside of the norm.  In formulating your testimony and statements for the record, please consider your use of language and messaging for your statement of the record.  For more information, please contact Mike German at mgerman@dcaclu.org or Devon Chaffee at dchaffee@dcaclu.org.

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