SAALT Organizes Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence


On March 23, 2017, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion, held a Con­gres­sion­al brief­ing to address the uptick in hate vio­lence nation­wide and high­light rec­om­men­da­tions for change, as out­lined in our recent report, “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial.”  SAALT was joined by eight mem­bers of Con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship and com­mu­ni­ty part­ners in an urgent dis­cus­sion on com­bat­ting the surge in hate vio­lence aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern Amer­i­cans across the coun­try.

“As Pres­i­dent Trump con­tin­ues to test fire Mus­lim bans, this admin­is­tra­tion appears intent on inten­si­fy­ing efforts to ignore and pro­voke hate vio­lence,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.  “The Pres­i­dent has a sworn duty to pro­tect the rights and safe­ty of all Amer­i­cans.  Today’s brief­ing with Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers is an impor­tant step in mak­ing sure Pres­i­dent Trump doesn’t escape his respon­si­bil­i­ties.”

Our com­mu­ni­ties have expe­ri­enced dev­as­tat­ing vio­lence in recent months, includ­ing dead­ly shoot­ings in Kansas and Wash­ing­ton State, numer­ous arson attacks and van­dal­ism of mosques, busi­ness­es, and homes nation­wide, and mount­ing fear by our com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try.

These tragedies are build­ing upon the his­tor­i­cal­ly divi­sive Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, which, as doc­u­ment­ed in “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial,” saw over 200 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric against our com­mu­ni­ties nation­wide. Notably, 95% of inci­dents were ani­mat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment and 1 out of 5 xeno­pho­bic com­ments emanat­ed from then-can­di­date Trump.  This is a 34% increase in these inci­dents in less than a third of the time cov­ered in our 2014 report, “Under Sus­pi­cion, Under Attack.”

“SAALT stands ready to work with Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers to fight hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric impact­ing our com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try,” stat­ed Ms. Raghu­nathan.  “South Asian Amer­i­cans are the most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group, and we are com­mit­ted to poli­cies at all lev­els that rein­force the place our com­mu­ni­ties have in our nation now and as we con­tin­ue to grow.”


Honorary Co-Chairs of the briefing include: Sen­a­tor Mazie Hirono (HI); Sen­a­tor Richard Blu­men­thal (CT); Sen­a­tor Ben Cardin (MD)

Member Co-Sponsors of the briefing include:  Con­gress­man Kei­th Elli­son (MN‑5); Con­gress­man Andre Car­son (IN‑7); Con­gress­man Raul Gri­jal­va (AZ‑3); Con­gress­man Ami Bera (CA‑7);  Con­gress­woman Grace Meng (NY‑6); Con­gress­man Mark Takano (CA-41);  Con­gress­woman Prami­la Jaya­pal (WA‑7); Con­gress­man Raja Krish­namoor­thi (IL‑8); Con­gress­man Ro Khan­na (CA-17)

Members of Congress who joined the briefing include: Con­gress­woman Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair, Con­gres­sion­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Cau­cus; Con­gress­man Raul Gri­jal­va (AZ‑3), Co-Chair, Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus; Con­gress­man Ami Bera (CA‑7); Con­gress­man Mark Takano (CA-41); Con­gress­woman Grace Meng (NY‑6); Con­gress­woman Prami­la Jaya­pal (WA‑7); Con­gress­man Raja Krish­namoor­thi (IL‑8); Con­gress­man Ro Khan­na (CA-17)

Partner organizations include: Sikh Coali­tion, Wash­ing­ton Peace Center/D.C. Jus­tice for Mus­lims Coali­tion, Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee, Arab Amer­i­can Insti­tute

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “I have been deeply dis­turbed by the grow­ing num­ber of reli­gious-based hate inci­dents across the Unit­ed States, includ­ing the ris­ing tide of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian, Mus­lim, Hin­du, and Sikh Amer­i­cans nation­wide. It is a trou­bling trend that we must bring to an end. Lead­ers from the nation­al lev­el to the neigh­bor­hood lev­el must make oppor­tu­ni­ties to speak out force­ful­ly against this kind of intol­er­ance. Reli­gious-based threats, van­dal­ism and poten­tial vio­lence are not only crim­i­nal but fan the flames of extrem­ism that tears apart soci­eties. Each threat needs to be treat­ed with the utmost seri­ous­ness as we band togeth­er to dis­cour­age such vicious lan­guage and activ­i­ty.”

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “The increase in hate crimes and attacks on minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties since the elec­tion is no coin­ci­dence- they are the unfor­tu­nate result of indi­vid­u­als who feel new­ly empow­ered by an Admin­is­tra­tion whose top advi­sors include a not­ed white suprema­cist. If we do not stand up against these hor­rif­ic actions now, we will be com­plic­it in what fol­lows.”

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus: “The dis­turb­ing uptick in hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties is appalling and must end. Recent attacks, includ­ing the shoot­ings of Srini­vas Kuchi­bot­la, Alok Madasani, and Deep Rai, are exam­ples of the very real con­se­quences that anti-Mus­lim and xeno­pho­bic rhetoric have on com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. Today’s brief­ing, which expos­es this ris­ing tide of hate, is crit­i­cal to bring more atten­tion to this urgent cri­sis. I would like to thank SAALT for bring­ing us togeth­er for this impor­tant dis­cus­sion. We must take proac­tive steps to ensure that all com­mu­ni­ties – regard­less of faith, race, or nation­al ori­gin – feel safe and wel­come in their own coun­try.”

Congressman Raul Grijalva (AZ-3): “Don­ald Trump cam­paigned for pres­i­dent on themes of big­otry and intol­er­ance, and sad­ly, his suc­cess has embold­ened some of the dark­est and most rep­re­hen­si­ble pock­ets of our soci­ety. Against this back­drop, I could not be more proud to join CAPAC and SAALT for this brief­ing on hate vio­lence. In my home state of Ari­zona, the wounds from SB 1070 – a law entire­ly pred­i­cat­ed on ille­gal racial pro­fil­ing – still run deep. We know first­hand what Repub­li­cans across the coun­try urgent­ly need to learn: politi­cians who embrace hate don’t just betray their oath of office – they endan­ger inno­cent lives.”

Congressman Ami Bera (CA-7): “As a nation, we must come togeth­er to stand up to these dis­turb­ing acts of hate vio­lence — start­ing with the Pres­i­dent. I am sad­dened and out­raged when I hear about any Amer­i­can being warned not to speak their lan­guage or wear tra­di­tion­al cloth­ing in pub­lic out of safe­ty con­cerns. These hate­ful attacks do not reflect who we are as a nation of immi­grants, but such vio­lence could do irrepara­ble dam­age to our rep­u­ta­tion around the world.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-6): “Immi­grant, Mus­lim, Arab, Sikh, Hin­du, and South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to be tar­gets of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric. It remains crit­i­cal for elect­ed offi­cials to speak out ear­ly, loud­ly, and often against hate vio­lence and the poli­cies that fan the flames of vio­lence. I’d like to thank SAALT for its tire­less efforts in sup­port­ing the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, and I hope that togeth­er, we can reverse the hor­ri­ble trend of height­ened intol­er­ance and vio­lence.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41): “This nation is built on that most pow­er­ful and Amer­i­can idea that every per­son is deserv­ing of dig­ni­ty and respect. The dis­turb­ing rise of hate­ful rhetor­i­cal and vio­lence direct­ed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Hin­du, and Sikh Amer­i­cans nation­wide threat­ens the basic premise of our coun­try. Amer­i­cans of all faiths, eth­nic­i­ties, and nation­al­i­ties must come togeth­er to ensure we pro­tect the diver­si­ty and tol­er­ance that makes us a bea­con of hope around the world.”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-7): “We will con­tin­ue to be resilient to counter the fear­ful, hate­ful peo­ple who think they can con­trol us—they can­not. The res­o­lu­tion that Con­gress­man Crow­ley and I intro­duced, along with the work of SAALT are steps in the direc­tion of end­ing this vit­ri­ol, but every sin­gle per­son in this coun­try has a stake in end­ing hate. This falls on all of us, I would encour­age the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion to remem­ber that.”

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8): “The hate-moti­vat­ed crimes we have wit­nessed these past months have been an attack on the very spir­it of Amer­i­ca. As we con­front this wave of hate, it is heart­en­ing to see so many Amer­i­cans — from the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty and oth­ers — com­ing togeth­er for essen­tial meet­ings, like this brief­ing, to speak out and stand up for the val­ues of our coun­try.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17): “I have full con­fi­dence that our coun­try will stand togeth­er, on a bipar­ti­san basis, against hate­ful words and actions, and we must pros­e­cute any hate crimes to the full extent of the law.”

Con­tact:  Vivek Trive­di —