The recent vandalism of a gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) in Michigan is a sad reminder of the persistence of bigotry. In this context, the Sikh community should be aware of a serious flaw in the way that the federal government monitors anti-Sikh hate crimes:
You read that right — the FBI refuses to track anti-Sikh hate crimes, even while Sikh houses of worship are vandalized and Sikh civilians are targeted because of their distinct identity. And that is why the Sikh Coalition encourages you to sign a petition to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that the federal government track anti-Sikh hate crimes.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) documents hate crimes in the United States on Form 1-699, the Hate Crime Incident Report. The statistics collected by this form allow law enforcement officials to analyze hate crime trends and allocate resources accordingly.
Unfortunately, the FBI assumes that all hate crimes against Sikhs are motivated by anti-Muslim bias. In addition, the Sikh Coalition has learned that some FBI officials consider Sikhs to be followers of a Hindu sect. For these reasons, hate crimes against Sikhs are not being accurately documented. Our community remains officially invisible and irrelevant to the FBI, even though Sikhs are usually targeted because of their Sikh identity.
We believe that the FBI has the capacity to document anti-Sikh hate crimes. For example, Form 1-699 does an extremely thorough and nuanced job documenting crimes motivated by anti-gay bias, going so far as to maintain distinct categories for anti-lesbian hate crimes and even anti-bisexual hate crimes. In addition, Form 1-699 has been designed to capture data about hate crimes in such far flung places as auto dealerships (for new and used cars), daycare facilities, and amusement parks.
Given the willingness of the FBI to invest time and paperwork into monitoring these other categories, it should not be difficult for them to create a separate category for Sikhs. This is an effective way for the federal government to monitor and allocate resources toward preventing hate crimes against Sikhs. Indeed, how can you diagnose a problem if you don’t even track it?
If you believe that the federal government should track hate crimes against Sikhs, please spare one minute of your time and sign our petition today.