Less than a week after the DuPage County’s State’s Attorney’s Office announced that the 17-year-old suspect in the brutal beating of Sikh American Innderjit Singh Mukker on September 8th would not face hate crimes charges, the Office issued a statement this morning amending their earlier position. The Office told press that they will amend the charges against the suspect to include one count of the commission of a hate crime, a Class 4 felony. The unnamed suspect is scheduled to appear in juvenile court to face the hate crime charge, added to the existing charge of felony aggravated battery.
The Sikh Coalition — which had created a petition and had planned a rally for later today protesting the State’s Attorney’s Office’s original decision — praised the change of heart. According to the Chicago Tribune:
“We are thankful that Robert Berlin and the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office have filed a hate crime charge in this case,” the Sikh Coalition’s legal director, Harsimran Kaur, wrote in an email. “For the Sikh American community, a formal hate crime charge was never about a harsher penalty, but instead prosecuting the crime for what it was. We can’t combat the problem of hatred against minority communities in America unless our elected officials and government agencies acknowledge that the problem exists.”
This is an incredible victory earned entirely through grassroots advocacy. However, there is much more we can and must still do for Mukker, and for the many other Muslim, Indian and Sikh American victims of hate crimes committed in the wake of September 11, 2001. For Mukker, the Sikh Coalition urges us to continue the following actions:
- Send Mr. Mukker Thoughts and Prayers: As Mr. Mukker recovers, the Sikh Coalition invites supporters around the world to express solidarity by clicking here to send a message. Alternatively, you can mail a card to the Sikh Coalition’s office at Inderjit Singh Mukker c/o The Sikh Coalition, 50 Broad Street, Suite 1537, New York, NY 10004.
- Contact Your Congressional Representative: Send an email to your congressional representative to request that they co-sponsor H-Res. 413, a resolution honoring the victims of post-9/11 hate crimes, including Sikh Americans.
- Sikh Awareness: This is a critical time for everyone (Sikhs and non-Sikhs) to raise awareness and appreciation about the Sikh American community. Host and/or conduct a Sikh awareness presentation in your school, place of employment, library, police station, town hall, etc. For community and Sikh awareness resources, please click here.
- Learn More About Hate Crimes Law: Click here to read our FAQs on Hate Crimes and Hate Speech. Please contact the Sikh Coalition firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on how to raise awareness on hate crimes and hate crimes law with your sangat.
We must also continue to urge our political representatives to support comprehensive hate crimes legislation in all 50 states — currently five states (Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming) lack any sort of laws that criminalize bias-motivated violence. Of the remaining states, not all have hate crime laws that encompass violence motivated by bias against sexual orientation, age, gender or disability.