“This is the strongest support from the House of Representatives on this issue,” said Courtney Gidner, spokeswoman for Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, New York). “More than 100 members are expressing strong actions, that does go a ways in decision making.”
The Advisory Policy Board is expected to decide in June whether these categories should be added to the form used by local, state and federal law enforcement officers to document hate crimes. The form, called the Hate Crime Incident Report, is then submitted to the FBI and Department of Justice for tracking and analysis.
The current incident report only offers an “anti-Muslim” category for reporting Sikh, Hindu and Arab hate crimes, even when the crime is uniquely against those communities.
Crowley initiated the March 21 letter, and worked closely with nine other members, including Judy Chu (D-Pasadena, California) who is leading the effort to launch the Sikh Caucus, to express strong support for the initiative, Gidner added. The letter was circulated among the 200 members of the Democratic Caucus, 109 endorsed it.
According to the letter, these Congress members were in favor of such a move because many of them have heard from constituents and leaders in the Sikh, Hindu and Arab communities about their ongoing concerns of being the victim of a hate crime, concerns that are a result of specific violent threats and attacks.
“Even before the horrific massacre at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August 2012, that took the lives of six worshipers, two Sikh men in Sacramento were killed and another in New York was brutally attacked,” they said in the letter.
“We are also deeply concerned about this issue because attacks and threats against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs appear to be aimed in part at our nation’s youth,” they added. “A shocking three out of four turbaned Sikh boys reported being harassed and bullied in schools because of their appearance and Sikh identity.”
That statistic comes from the Sikh Coalition’s surveys.
The letter also mentions the December death of a Hindu man, Senando Sen, who was shoved in front of a New York subway train by a woman who said she hated Hindus and Muslims.
“Given the scale of the problem and that these discrete communities are so acutely susceptible to hate violence in the United States, we urge the (board) to support adding these three categories” to the existing data collection mandate for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” the letter says.
On Feb. 19, twenty-six Senate Democrats also sent a similar letter asking Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller to collect data on hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs.
On Sept. 14, 2012, 88 House Democrats passed a resolution to honor the contributions of the Sikh-American community to the United States, condemn the string of attacks against Sikhs and their religious institutions in the past year, and called for the Department of Justice to begin collecting comprehensive data on hate crimes committed against Sikhs.
On April 19, 2012, before the Oak Creek shooting, more than 90 members of Congress sent a letter to the FBI urging it to track hate crimes against Sikhs, “a community that is acutely susceptible to violence because of their appearance,” Crowley said in a news release. “The more information our law enforcement agencies have on violence against Sikh-Americans, the more they can do to help prevent these crimes and bring those who commit them to justice.”