SAALT and Community Partners Issue Statement Regarding Recent Bias Crimes Targeting South Asians in New Jersey

You may be sur­prised to learn that near­ly 200,000 South Asians reside in the state of New Jer­sey.  SAALT’s New Jer­sey Com­mu­ni­ty Empow­er­ment Project devel­oped from a series of meet­ings in 2004 with South Asian orga­ni­za­tions in New Jer­sey, allies, and con­cerned South Asian indi­vid­u­als.  Through these dia­logues, it became clear that South Asian com­mu­ni­ties in New Jer­sey are under­served and large­ly voice­less in pol­i­cy debates. To learn more about the New Jer­sey Com­mu­ni­ty Empow­er­ment Project, or to read our report high­light­ing key issues affect­ing the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty in New Jer­sey, “A Com­mu­ni­ty of Con­trasts: South Asians in New Jer­sey,” please check out SAALT’s local ini­tia­tives page.

In response to recent bias-crimes tar­get­ed towards the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty in New Jer­sey, SAALT, along with sev­er­al South Asian com­mu­ni­ty part­ners — Man­avi; South Asian Men­tal Health Aware­ness in Jer­sey (SAMHAJ); the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR-NJ); UNITED SIKHS; and the Sikh Coali­tion issued a joint state­ment con­demn­ing all bias crimes.  Read the state­ment below:

“We come togeth­er, as orga­ni­za­tions serv­ing South Asian com­mu­ni­ties here in New Jer­sey, to denounce the recent hate crimes and bias inci­dents that have tak­en place in our state.  The South Asian com­mu­ni­ty in New Jer­sey, with a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of 200,000, has long con­front­ed bias and dis­crim­i­na­tion, begin­ning in the 1980’s with the attacks per­pe­trat­ed by the ‘Dot­busters’ and the post‑9/11 back­lash.  In addi­tion, our orga­ni­za­tions — Man­avi; the Sikh Coali­tion; the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR-NJ); South Asian Men­tal Health Aware­ness in Jer­sey (SAMHAJ); and UNITED SIKHS — have observed a rise in New Jer­sey, which we believe has fos­tered an envi­ron­ment where bias inci­dents and hate crimes can occur.

Today, we stand in sol­i­dar­i­ty not only with the Gre­w­al fam­i­ly — vic­tims of a cross-burn­ing out­side their home; Mr. Ajit Singh Chi­ma — an elder­ly Sikh man who, on Octo­ber 30th, in Wayne, New Jer­sey, was vio­lent­ly punched and kicked in the face sev­er­al times by an uniden­ti­fied man, and as a result suf­fered sev­er­al frac­tures around his eyes and jaw; Gan­gadeep Singh — a fifth grade stu­dent who, on Octo­ber 8th, was attacked in Carteret, New Jer­sey while walk­ing home from school by an uniden­ti­fied masked assailant that threw him on the ground and cut off his hair — but with all sur­vivors of bias and hate crimes.

We stand togeth­er now because we must say no to any act of bias and intol­er­ance when it hap­pens.  We stand togeth­er to ask our elect­ed offi­cials and law enforce­ment agen­cies to pro­tect sur­vivors of hate crimes and to join us in con­demn­ing them.  As a vibrant seg­ment of New Jer­sey’s neigh­bor­hoods, schools, busi­ness­es, and non-prof­it sec­tors, South Asians raise our voic­es to call for jus­tice and equal­i­ty for all.”

Please join us for a march and ral­ly in sup­port of the Gre­w­al fam­i­ly on Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 15th at 3PM in Hard­wick, New Jer­sey.  The ‘Uni­ty for the Com­mu­ni­ty’ March will start at the Munic­i­pal Build­ing and end at the Gre­w­al res­i­dence with a ral­ly. 

Satur­day, Novem­ber 5th, 3PM
Hard­wick Munic­i­pal Build­ing
40 Spring Val­ley Road
Hard­wick, NJ 07825
If you’d like to attend but do not have a ride, please con­tact Qudsia:
(qudsia@saalt.org) or call (201) 850‑3333.

Addi­tion­al­ly, if you’d like to learn more about bias and hate crimes, check out a new resource by SAALT:  “Know Your Rights Resource Address­ing Hate Crimes”

Have you seen “Raising Our Voices”?

In Jan­u­ary 2001, SAALT began work on a 26-minute doc­u­men­tary enti­tled “Rais­ing Our Voic­es: South Asian Amer­i­cans Address Hate.” Pro­duced by Omusha Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and guid­ed by SAALT Board mem­bers and vol­un­teers, the doc­u­men­tary set out to raise aware­ness about the increas­ing hate crimes and bias inci­dents affect­ing South Asian com­mu­ni­ties, espe­cial­ly in the late 1990s. In fact, in 1997 and 1998, South Asians were report­ing the high­est inci­dences of bias-moti­vat­ed crimes in the broad­er Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty.

The doc­u­men­tary fea­tures South Asian sur­vivors of hate crimes and their fam­i­lies in Queens, New Jer­sey, Pitts­burgh and Los Ange­les, as well as orga­niz­ers, lawyers and com­mu­ni­ty advo­cates who mobi­lized the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty and demand­ed jus­tice.  When the film was com­plet­ed two weeks before Sep­tem­ber 11th, 2001, lit­tle did we know how the land­scape of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty in the Unit­ed States would change.  With the alarm­ing increase of hate crimes, bias inci­dents, and pro­fil­ing that South Asians, espe­cial­ly those who are Sikh and Mus­lim, endured in the days and months after 9/11, SAALT re-envi­sioned the doc­u­men­tary and shot addi­tion­al footage.

The doc­u­men­tary has been out since 2002, but you may not have seen it in its entire­ty yet. It has been used in class­rooms and town­halls around the coun­try and we encour­age you to engage with it, com­ment on it, and if pos­si­ble, to share it with friends, fam­i­ly, cowork­ers and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers.

You can view it here:

Part 1

Part 2 Please email us at saalt@saalt.org with your feed­back, reac­tions, and com­ments. Feel free to use this doc­u­men­tary in your com­mu­ni­ty, uni­ver­si­ty, or your per­son­al net­work of col­leagues and friends.