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ADL Commends the Port Orange Police Department for Investigating Shooting of Sikh Man as a Possible Hate Crime

Date: February 28, 2013

Today, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) commended the Port Orange Police Department for investigating the shooting of Kanwaljit Singh, a 46 year-old observant Sikh man, as a possible hate crime.  While the details of the shooting against Mr. Singh are still unfolding, we have been in communication with the Port Orange Police Department and we commend their decision to investigate this violent incident as a potential hate crime. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ADL has raised concern about an increase in bigoted “backlash crimes” targeting Muslim, Sikh and Arab Americans or anyone perceived to be of Middle East origin. 

“ADL has been in touch with the Sikh community in Central Florida to offer our assistance and to express our solidarity with the victim and his family during this very difficult time,” stated Yael Hershfield, ADL Florida Interim Director. “This latest potential hate crime targeting a Sikh man, who was wearing a turban at the time of the shooting, is a sad reminder of the inexcusable violence targeting the Sikh community that has become too common in our post-9/11 world. ADL remains more dedicated than ever to ensure that religious individuals and/or groups are no longer singled out because of their faith and appearance that makes them look different from other Americans.”

ADL is a national leader in creating innovative laws, programs and policies to confront violent bigotry, and was a leading force behind the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. ADL has urged the U.S. Department of Justice to task the FBI to tabulate hate crimes directed against Sikhs in a separate category.  This measure would not only prompt increased awareness of this problem, but it would also encourage Sikhs to report such crimes, and expand relationships between the Sikh community and law enforcement.  Since 9/11, the Department of Justice has investigated over 800 incidents involving violence, threats, vandalism and arson against Arab-Americans, Muslims, Sikhs, South-Asian Americans and other individuals perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin.

Some incidents targeting the Sikh community include:

  • In August 2012, a white supremacist skinhead went on a shooting spree inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin killing six innocent victims. 
  • Four days after the 9/11 terrorist attack, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh American, was murdered in Phoenix by an individual who irrationally acted against him in the mistaken belief that he was in some way connected with this terrorism.
  • In March, 2011, two elderly Sikhs wearing traditional turbans were shot and killed on a street in Elk Grove California.

ADL is actively supporting Rep. Joseph Crowley’s (D-NY) Dear Colleague letter in support of adding specific data on hate crimes directed against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arabs to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics Act data collection mandate. [Refer to ADL’s Action Alert for more information.]

ADL experts also continue to conduct regular hate crimes training seminars, offer instruction on the special nature of hate crime, the legal and constitutional framework in which federal and state hate crime statues operate, and how to perform investigative and enforcement duties in a way that reassures the victims and helps alleviate community tensions and fear.

Hate crime statutes have been adopted by 45 states, including Florida.  Many of those laws are based on a model statute crafted by ADL, which has long been in the forefront of national and state efforts to deter and counteract hate-motivated criminal activity.

ADL in the News
Daytona Beach News Journal: A shooting that may hold lessons for the community
Daytona Beach News Journal: Anti-Defamation League joins supporters of Sikh shot in Port Orange


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