As the year winds down to a close, these are the top ten political stories that had a major impact on the AANHPI community highlighting the many political issues that have defined the AANHPI community this year. Sadly, many didn’t receive much mainstream media coverage.
How many of these stories were you following this year?
Vishavjit Singh, creator of Sikhtoons, has created a cartoon expression of our collective outrage with regard to the recent apparently hate-motivated assaults of Sikh and Indian American men. The cartoon above references the September 8th, 2015 attack on 53-year-old Inderjit Singh Mukker by a teenager who allegedly called Mukker “terrorist” and “bin Laden” before repeatedly punching the older man in the face; Mukker was hospitalized with a fractured cheek, and multiple lacerations and contusions. Police originally investigated the assault as a hate crime. On Friday, the DuPage County state’s attorney announced that the incident was mere road rage, and that they were declining to prosecute the teenaged suspect for a hate crime.
“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.
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.
Mukker was driving to the grocery store in the evening of September 8th when the driver of another vehicle allegedly began shouting the slurs to Mukker. When Mukker pulled over to allow the other car to pass him, the other motorist then allegedly stopped his vehicle in front of Mukker, got out and approached Mukker’s car window. He then allegedly reached into the car and repeatedly punched Mukker in the face until the elderly man lost consciousness.
After his attacker fled the scene, Mukker was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for a cheekbone fracture, multiple lacerations and contusions. He ultimately received six stitches. He has now been released from the hospital and is recuperating at home.