Civil Rights Groups, North Carolina State and Local Officials Call For An End to Hate Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), issued the following statement subsequent to SAALT’s October 7 town hall on hate violence in Cary, North Carolina in collaboration with state and local officials, law enforcement, and community based organizations:

“America’s highest ideals are rooted in the fact that we are all created equal and have the right to pray, love, live with freedom. Nevertheless, our communities continue to be attacked and targeted via legislation based upon our real and perceived religion. This has to end.”

“From three Muslim Bans to contemptible support of white supremacy, this administration has encouraged and emboldened hate violence against our communities.  Since the election of President Trump, SAALT has tracked over 179 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern American, already surpassing totals from the year leading up to the 2016 election.”

“In February 2015 three young Muslim Chapel Hill students and activists were murdered in their home by their neighbor.  In June 2016 Army Reserve officer Russel Thomas Langford left bacon outside of a mosque, harassed congregants in the parking lot, and then made death threats, which according to Capt. John Kivett of the Sheriff’s Office, included telling “people at the mosque that he would kill them and bury them behind the mosque.”  In May 2017, vulgar Islamophobic cartoons depicting a pig performing a sexual act on top of a Muslim man were posted across the residential halls at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.”

“These incidents reflect increasing bigotry and division targeting our communities across the country. This administration has done nothing to prevent or condemn vigilante violence or to denounce the views of die-hard racists, and has rather used the full power of the federal government to refill our nation’s reservoir of hate with every anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policy and tweet it hurls.”

“In response to the uptick in hate violence targeting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities around the country, SAALT is hosting regional town halls this year on key issues for our communities. SAALT thanks Attorney General Josh Stein, Senator Angela Bryant, Senator Jay Chaudhuri, Former Representative Rick Glazier, Farris Barakat, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue, the North Carolina members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), and our allies and sponsors for collaborating on this urgent town hall.

In this time of political and social divisiveness, an answer to hate violence seems impossible, yet the solution remains clear: we must remain united for action and stand with each other to demand that all Americans are afforded full inclusion and justice in our country.  We must refuse to allow prejudice to go unchecked as we work to form a more perfect union together.”

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Quotes:

Attorney General Josh Stein:

“Criminals who target people with violence because of who they are, where they are from, or how they pray must be condemned. Hate crimes go against everything this country stands for. I am committed to strengthening North Carolina’s response to hate crimes and working collaboratively to prevent these crimes that incite fear and vulnerability among our neighbors.”

State Senator Jay Chaudhuri:

“America was founded on the ideal that all of us are created equal. Hate violence that targets our communities targets our country’s founding values. America has no room for violence based on someone’s race, religion, identity, and nation of origin, and we must denounce these acts in the strongest possible terms. I am committed to working with state and local authorities, and community leaders, to make sure North Carolina stands up to hate and not on the sidelines.”

Rick Glazier – Executive Director, North Carolina Justice Center

“A trust is placed in each of us-by future generations not yet born-to fulfill our maintenance obligation to fight poverty and disease, ignorance and bigotry, and apathy and distrust.”

Chavi Koneru – Executive Director, North Carolina Asian Americans Together:

“As an organization bringing to light the issues facing the Asian American community in North Carolina, we are greatly concerned about the rise in hate violence towards members of our community who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim. This town hall is beginning a discussion we need to have in this state about collectively addressing the issue of hate violence and supporting policy changes that can bring it to an end.”

Ritu Kaur – Kiran Inc.

“Do you realize hate crimes and domestic violence have similar traumatic effect on the victims and on the community? Let us speak out.”

Farris Barakat – The Lighthouse Projects

“As prejudice and discrimination threaten more people and is normalized in offices as high up as the presidency, an active and grassroots effort to counter this darkness is a civic duty on the people of consciousness.”

Kulpreet Singh – Sikh Gurdwara

“Each of us is a tremendous resource, and the world is a better place when we communicate and work together because of, not despite, our differences.”

Chris Blue – Town of Chapel Hill, Chief of Police and Executive Director for Community Safety

“I am honored to have been among the impressive panelists who spoke so passionately today about the nature of hate in our society and the determination and compassion that will be required of all of us to overcome it.  I am also heartened by the good work going on in North Carolina toward making this a place of inclusivity for everyone.”

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Contact: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org