Washington D.C. – June 9, 2007: The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) strongly urges all Sikh Religious Leaders to sign on to an interfaith letter in support of The Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) (Senate bill number S. 1105). In the previous Congress, this bill enjoyed broad bi-partisan and law enforcement support from across the nation.
The interfaith letter, available online at www.ClergyAgainstHate.org, urges United States Senators to co-sponsor and pass ground breaking hate crimes legislation which will provide local governments with necessary resources to serve their communities.
Bias crimes are increasingly a cause for concern within the Sikh American community in a pre- and post-9/11 context. The FBI Hate Crime Report, although voluntary, has documented over 115,000 hate crimes since 1991. In 2005, 7,183 hate crimes were reported, of which, 17.1 percent were perpetrated against individuals of faith and 14.2 percent against ethnic minorities.
Current law authorizes federal involvement only in those cases in which the victim was targeted because of race, color, religion, or national origin. Unfortunately, some local jurisdictions neither have the resources nor will to investigate and prosecute assailants alleged to have committed a hate crime. Additionally, current law does not protect victims on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.