Justice Dept. adds Sikhs to hate-crimes list

August 5, 2013

The Justice Department will begin keeping numbers on hate crimes committed against Sikhs and six other groups, in connection with Monday’s one-year anniversary of the killing of six Sikh worshippers in Oak Creek, Wis.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. made the announcement Friday in a blog post. He said outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller had approved a recommendation from the agency’s advisory policy board to track hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, Arabs, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Orthodox Christians.

“Having accurate information allows law enforcement leaders and policymakers to make informed decisions about the allocation of resources and priorities — decisions that impact real people, and affect public safety in every neighborhood and community,” Holder wrote in the blog post. “Today, I am proud to report that we have taken steps to collect this information.”

Members of the Sikh community had long sought the addition.

Holder also announced a $500,000 grant for mental health and trauma services for those affected by the Oak Creek shooting, including survivors and family members.

A year ago Monday, Wade Michael Page, who had ties to white-supremacist groups, walked into the Milwaukee area Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and opened fire. He killed six leaders and worshippers, injured five others and then fatally shot himself after he was wounded in the parking lot by a police sniper.

Pardeep Kaleka, son of former temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka, who died in the massacre, said he appreciates anything that can draw attention to people being victimized because of characteristics like race, religion or gender.

“Progress is sort of a climb, and it takes a step at a time. This is one of those steps toward progress,” he said.

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