Former Skinhead Joins Son of Slain Worshipper For Hill Hate Crime Briefing

“Given the increase in hate crimes and hate crime threat against various communities in America, the time for urgent act...

December 13, 2017 (Washington, D.C.) – Two people profoundly impacted by white supremacist hate violence spoke at a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. this morning, urging lawmakers to do more to combat and prevent hate in America.

 

In response to rising hate crime and emboldened white nationalist violence displayed in places like Charlottesville this year, Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Arno Michaelis illuminated the threats posed by white nationalist groups and proposed concrete strategies that can be employed to prevent future hate crime.

Pardeep Singh Kaleka is the son of Satwant Singh Kaleka, one of the six Sikh worshippers killed in the 2012 shooting at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara (Sikh house of worship). Arno Michaelis is a self-described reformed racist skinhead who was deeply involved in the white power movement. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Kaleka and Michaelis became close friends and co-founded Serve2Unite, a youth empowerment organization aimed at combating hate and creating a more compassionate climate. At the congressional briefing, they detailed how their unlikely friendship was built and addressed the current state of racism and xenophobia.

“Given the increase in hate crimes and hate crime threat against various communities in America, the time for urgent action is now,” said Kaleka and Michaelis. “From governments to advocacy groups to individuals, we all have a role to play in creating a more peaceful world.”

Earlier this year, a Sikh man was shot in the arm in his driveway in Kent, Washington after the gunman allegedly told him to “go back to your own country.” In addition, the Sikh Coalition has seen a dramatic spike this year in reports of school bullying. These incidents follow the larger national pattern of hate directed at religious and minority communities across the United States.

“In this current political and social climate, we have seen our leaders espousing divisive rhetoric, which legitimizes bigotry at all levels of society,” said Sikh Coalition National Advocacy Manager, Sim J. Singh. “Our elected officials must use their convening power and their platforms to create unity, celebrate diversity and strongly condemn white supremacy.”

The congressional briefing was held in collaboration with Serve2Unite and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). A live stream of the entire event is featured on the Sikh Coalition’s Facebook page.

The Sikh Coalition is the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States and has 16 years of legal and policy expertise on issues related to hate crimes. For more information about the congressional briefing or for interviews, please contact Jagmeet or Mark. 

Mark Reading-Smith 

Senior Director, Media & Communications  | The Sikh Coalition

Email: [email protected] 

Phone (Office): (510) 659-0900 | Phone (Cell): (202) 380-8489.

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