National, local leaders meet with Sikh community as part of DOJs “United Against Hate” initiative

U.S. Attorney Dena J. King, members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Team, along with federal and local law enforcement met with the Sikh community on Sunday, according to a release from the United States Department of Justice.

Sunday’s meeting was held at the Gurdwara Khalsa Darbar, the Sikh faith center in Charlotte. It was the first of many as part of the Justice Department’s “United Against Hate” initiative; these meetings will be used to plan outreach and educational events.

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In September, the “United Against Hate” initiative was announced 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.

The events give people an opportunity to meet and speak with federal prosecutors and law enforcement for a better understanding of hate crimes, how to report them, and building a connection between law enforcement and the community.

“People in communities across the Western District have the right to live their lives free from fear, violence, and intimidation,” U.S. Attorney King said. “This fundamental right is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution.” Unfortunately, certain groups are frequent targets of acts of hate and abuse.

Sunday’s meeting was a presentation and discussion with topics including defining hate crimes versus hate incidents, the importance of reporting these crimes, and the difference between free speech and hate speech.

A representative of the United Sikhs spoke about the 15-year relationship between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Sikh Community.

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“The Sikh community of Charlotte greatly values the relationship it has built with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, dating back to 2008. 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. Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to play a pivotal role in shaping and nurturing this relationship. “Our community is grateful for everything this office has done for us,” said Pushpinder Garcha, a United Sikhs representative.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will have more “United Against Hate” events throughout the year as an effort to engage communities throughout the state’s Western District.

Learn more about the “United Against Hate” initiative here.

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