On June 17th, the Hindu American Foundation hosted a virtual town hall event in partnership with the US Department of Justice, focusing on the role of federal law enforcement in combating hate and bias targeting the Hindu American community.
HAF Policy Director Taniel Koushakjian kicked off the event with opening remarks on HAF’s work to address hate and bias, including its instrumental role in adding an anti-Hindu category to FBI tracking of hate crimes in 2015, its seminal bullying survey, ‘Fight Hate. Educate’ campaign, and state and federal advocacy to strengthen hate crimes reporting and training requirements for law enforcement.
State Representative and former HAF board member, Padma Kuppa (D-MI-41), gave keynote remarks on her work to combat hate/bias impacting the Hindu and broader AAPI community and the importance of the community engaging with federal law enforcement and the DOJ.
“As the first and only Hindu in the Michigan legislature, I hope that speaking today on this sensitive and important topic helps other Hindus and Asian Americans of all backgrounds to stand tall, to resist bias and bullying, in whatever way they become engaged in the civic arena, and for all of us to work together to stop hate,” said Kuppa.
Rep. Kuppa was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Managing Director, on the Federal response to bullying and religious discrimination, hate speech, community safety, and hate crimes.
Speakers included Justin Lock (DOJ CRS Special Assistant for AAPI Issues); Sarah Saenz (Acting Unit Chief with the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs Community Relations Unit); Sandra Torres (Supervisory Special Agent from the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division’s Civil Rights Unit); Laura Vartain Horn (Chief of the Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California); and Sharanya Mohan (Assistant United States Attorney in the US Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, in the Civil Division).
“We’re thankful to all of the speakers for providing important insights on the work of the federal government to deal with issues of hate, bias, and discrimination and the resources available to assist the community,” said Kalra. “I look forward to many more similar events in partnership with the Department of Justice and opportunities for further dialogue and collaboration to help better protect the Hindu American community.”