(MENAFN- IANS) New York, Feb 27 (IANS) Representatives of Sikh community from North Carolina's Charlotte city met law enforcement officials in the US to find out ways to combat the rise in unlawful acts of hate.
The meeting, held on Sunday at the Gurdwara Khalsa Darbar in Charlotte, was the first of a series of planned outreach and educational events to be conducted as part of the Justice Department's 'United Against Hate' (UAH) initiative.
'People in communities across the Western District have the right to live their lives free from fear, violence, and intimidation. This fundamental right is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. Unfortunately, certain groups are frequent targets of acts of hate and abuse,' said US Attorney Dena J. King.
'The purpose of this initiative is to protect our communities, educate members on their rights and the relevant law, provide an avenue for reporting hate crimes and incidents of hate, and increase trust in our criminal justice system,' King said in a justice department release.
The event featured a presentation by Assistant US Attorneys with experience in prosecuting hate crimes and civil rights violations, and law enforcement representatives with the FBI, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.
The presenters facilitated a discussion with representatives of the Sikh community centered on hate crimes, including defining hate crimes versus hate incidents, according to the release.
The importance of reporting acts of hate to law enforcement; providing options for responding to hate incidents when situations do not constitute federal or state crimes, etc were also discussed.
'With the Office's help, we have always been able to reach out to federal law enforcement for assistance with any challenge our community faces, whether it is school bullying, diversity training at the airport, security of the Gurdwara, or civil rights matters,' said Pushpinder Garcha, a representative of the United Sikhs.
The 'United Against Hate' initiative was announced in September 2022 by the Justice Department as a national program to fight the rise of hate crimes in the Western District of North Carolina.
The initiative will have many events, including focusing on communities at risk of being targets of hate crimes. Each event will give participants an opportunity to directly connect with federal prosecutors and law enforcement to increase community understanding of hate crimes and hate incidents.
A total of 1,005 hate crimes related to religion were reported in 2021 in the US with Sikhs being the most targeted religious groups, according to statistics revealed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Incidents related to religion comprised 14.2 per cent of incidents, the Hate Crime Statistics revealed. The largest categories of religion-based crime included anti-Jewish incidents at 31.9 per cent followed by anti-Sikh incidents at 21.3 per cent.