UPDATE: September 15, 2015– A hate crime charge has been added in the case of Inderjit Singh.
On the heels of the most recent anti-Sikh hate crime in the United States, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) has introduced a resolution to honor victims of post 9/11 hate crimes. Johnson states:
“September 11, 2001 changed the course of our country’s history forever. Many Americans lost their lives and loved ones in those senseless acts of terrorism. In the aftermath of 9/11, we saw a marked increase of violence misdirected at individuals within the Arab, South Asian, Sikh, and Muslim communities. In the first nine weeks following 9/11, there were over 700 documented cases of violent incidents targeting Arab-Americans. On this day, I want to recognize the individuals who were unfairly targeted in post-9/11 violence. This resolution reaffirms the positive contributions that Arabs, South Asian, Sikh, and Muslims make to the United States and recognizes the rights of religious freedom upheld in the Constitution.”
Joining Congresswoman Johnson in cosponsoring this resolution are Representatives Andre Carson ( IN-7), Mike Honda (CA-17), and Paul Tonko (NY-20). On behalf of the Sikh community, who has endured untold amounts of violence after 9/11, we are moved and grateful to see such a resolution introduced, and the severe impact that 9/11 on communities such as that of Sikh Americans validated.
Unfortunately, the journey towards a safe and tolerant society is far from over. A prime example of the horrifying post-9/11 violence that our community lives in fear of occurred only last week, as Inderjit Singh, 53, of Chicago, Illinois was driving when another driver cut him off, preventing him from moving his car. The driver then approached Singh and punched him repeatedly, calling him “Bin Laden,” and telling him to go back to his country. Singh, a U.S. citizen, was hospitalized and treated for a fractured cheek bone, a laceration requiring stitches, a black eye, bruising, and swelling.
Inderjit Singh after the attack.
Instead of labeling this incident as a hate crime, law enforcement is categorizing it as a result of the attacker’s road rage, despite his use of racial slurs. Last year, UNITED SIKHS took on a similar case of hate-based violence, where a Sikh American in New York alleged a perpetrator damaged his vehicle, spit in his direction, and referred to him using a racial slur. The most challenging hurdle in this case was upgrading the charge, after police reported it as a simple traffic accident. Read more about the case here: http://unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-25-07-14-01.html.
As we remember the innocent lives lost on Septempber 11th, 2001, as well as the lives lost due to post-9/11 ignorance, we are reminded that our work as a civil rights organization is now more important than ever. Support our fight against hate and ignorance—donate today.
If you have been victim to hate-based violence, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.