RESPONDING TO A Since the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, the Sikhs and other minority
communities residing worldwide have faced a sharp increase in bias crimes and
Therefore, actions such as verbal comments on a person’s race, religion,
gender etc., distribution of written materials based in hate or prejudice,
POTENTIAL BIAS bias incidents. In lieu of this, UNITED SIKHS expanded its original mission or rallies and marches of hate groups are not illegal and are protected by
the United Stated Constitution as the right to freely express oneself and
INCIDENT/CRIME to also serve as an advocacy organization for Sikhs globally to ensure that
justice is properly served in bias crime cases involving Sikhs. This brochure
to freely speak.
shall define terms that are often involved in bias incidents/crimes However, it is when such expressions are the motivation behind a
investigations, differentiate between a bias crime and a bias incident, outline criminal act, such as a murder, assault or harassment, that the incident is
labeled a Bias Crime/ Hate Crime. For example, if those same verbal
steps to take when a bias incident/crime has occurred and provide contact comments were the prelude to an assault or murder, if that hate rally
information of individuals and agencies to communicate with in case of a bias degraded into a rampage targeting minorities or if the distributor of hate
incident/crime. IF AT ANY TIME YOU ARE UNSURE OF TO DO, material vandalized someone’s property with hate symbols or speech,
the event is categorized as a Bias Crime. While the criminal act itself is
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REGIONAL UNITED SIKHS devastating in itself, bias as a motivating factor can lead to further fear
DIRECTOR FOR GUIDANCE IMMEDIATELY. and torment to the victimized individual or community, which may fear
further acts of terror against them. Because of this additional damage,
Bias Crimes levy heavier punishment against the offender than the same
DEFINITIONS crime without bias.
IF A BIAS INCIDENT/BIAS CRIME HAS OCCURRED…
In order to participate in data collection, reporting and disseminating
information regarding the bias incident/crime to the various individuals and If you are contacted to respond to a potential bias crime/incident, please
organizations involved, it is vital that the UNITED SIKHS representative have follow the following steps in properly collecting data regarding the
a firm grasp of certain concepts and definitions of terms that arise during the incident, contacting the appropriate authorities (if not already done so),
contacting various press agencies to draw attention to the matter (this
investigation into the matter. They are as follows: assists in placing responsibility on the law enforcement agencies to
actively evaluate and pursue the investigation), and civil rights
Bias - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of organizations for assistance.
persons based on their race, religion, or ethnicity/national origin.
List of Equipment to Bring to the Investigation:
Hate Group - An organization whose primary purpose is to promote Notebook and pen
animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a(n) race, Tape Recorder
religion, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the Cell phone
members of the organization, e.g., the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazi Your UNITED SIKHS card
Party, etc. Camera (digital preferred)
Responding Officer - The first law enforcement officer on the scene of
an alleged bias incident. This officer is responsible for determining 1) Respond to the victim’s location as soon as possible. If
whether a “Suspected Bias Incident” has occurred. possible, please contact the victim in advance to let them
know who you are, that you represent UNITED SIKHS, and
Second Level Judgment Officer/Unit - The officer or unit within the what time you are coming.
law enforcement department who has received in-depth training in bias-
related incidents and is tasked with making the final determination 2) Remain calm, empathetic, and make sure that your demeanor
whether a hate crime has occurred. is not aggressive.
BIAS INCIDENT VS. BIAS CRIME – AN IMPORTANT 3) Contact the police and the emergency medical services for
DIFFERENCE any injuries if not already done so.
Whenever an individual(s) is subjected to any action that is founded in
another’s bias, that/those individual(s) feel victimized. However, the 4) If the police are already at the scene, do not interfere with
event can be categorized into two distinct categories: Bias Incident or any of the police officers’ work. It is essential that they are
Bias Crime. It is absolutely vital to fully grasp the difference between allowed to perform their investigation without hindrance.
the two events, as one carries criminal penalties (Crime) and one does Address them with proper respect. The police may demand
not (Incident). to know whom you are, so please identify yourself as a
representative of UNITED SIKHS and that your purpose is
A Bias Incident is any expression, whether it is spoken, written or to see to the victim’s needs.
symbolic form, which is motivated by some form of prejudice on the
basis of race, ethnicity, age, gender, etc.
5) If requested, you may serve as a translator between the The community strongly denounced what they thought was his/her bias? For example, the offender shouted
victim and the police officer, provided you are comfortable a bias crime, only to find out that the “bias crime” was a racial epithet at the victim.
and competent in the language being spoken by the victim. staged. It is prudent that the investigation be allowed to Were bias-related drawings, markings, symbols,
However, both the police and the victim should consent to continue by the police and that they be allowed to do so or graffiti left at the crime scene? For example, a
this. unhindered by you or the Sikh community. Any statement swastika was painted on the door of a synagogue.
issued should utilize the words “alleged bias incident” and Were certain objects, items, or things that
6) The police and the victim have the right to refuse your help reassure the Sikh community to remain calm and let the indicate bias used, e.g., the offenders wore white
or ask that you come back later. If the victim refuses your investigation continue. sheets with hoods covering their faces, a burning
help altogether, then you may return from the scene. Please 14) Contact other civil rights organizations, such as the cross was left in front of the victim’s residence?
report this to your Regional Director to apprise them of the American Civil Liberties Union to the scene to assist in the Is the victim a member of a racial, religious,
situation. If you are asked to come back later, you may matter. (Please see the document “Database of Agencies” disability, ethnic/national origin, or sexual
ascertain as to what time and location, along with taking for Contact Information or relevant organizations). orientation group that is overwhelmingly
down the victim’s contact information for communication. outnumbered by other residents in the
AFTER THE INVESTIGATION AT THE SCENE neighborhood where the victim lives and the
7) If you are allowed to remain, please take notes about incident took place?
anything related to the scene, any conversations between the Was the victim visiting a neighborhood where
police officer and the victim, or any other relevant After returning from the scene having collected as much data as previous hate crimes were committed against
information. However, if you are requested to stop by the possible, create a report that compiles the information in a systematic other members of his/her racial, religious,
police, do so, as they have the right to keep the information manner and convey this information to your Regional Director, who ethnic/national origin, and where tensions
collected confidential during the investigation. may then forward it to an appropriate UNITED SIKHS representative. remained high against his/her group?
You may also be called on to draft a Community Voice/Press Release Have several incidents occurred in the same
8) After the police have been allowed to complete their data regarding the matter. Again, assure the Sikh community to remain calm locality, at or about the same time, and were the
collection and interviewing of the victim and have left, you and to let the authorities finish the investigation without any hindrance. victims all of the same race, religion, or
may begin personal communication with the victim. ethnic/national origin?
When drafting the report, you may utilize the following questions to Was the victim engaged in activities promoting
9) Ask the victim to tell you the full details of the incident and assist your conclusions as to whether the event was a bias his/her race, religion, disability,
make sure to record all details. A tape recorder or a video incident/crime, keeping the definitions of the two terms in mind. These ethnicity/national origin, or sexual orientation?
camera will assist in capturing all these details. If you have questions may be asked of the victim and eyewitnesses as well to provide For example, the victim is a member of
any questions or require clarification on anything said, please a more complete picture of the event: UNITED SIKHS, is a Sikh activist etc.
ask the victim. Did the incident coincide with a holiday relating
to, or a date of particular significance to, a race,
10) Photograph or record by video camera any injuries to the Is the motivation of the alleged offender known? religion, ethnic/national origin, e.g., Sikh Parade,
victim, any bias symbols left on the property, any evidence Was the incident known to have been motivated Nagar Kirtan, etc.?
that you find pertinent to the event. DO NOT TAKE by racial, religious, ethnic? Was the offender previously involved in a similar
ANYTHING FROM THE SCENE. This may be state Does the victim perceive the action of the hate crime or is he/she a member of a hate
evidence that the police may require to carry out their offender to have been motivated by bias? group?
investigation. Is there no clear other motivation for the Were there indications that a hate group was
incident? involved? For example, a hate group claimed
11) Always remember to interview any eyewitnesses regarding Were any racial, religious, ethnic biased remarks responsibility for the crime or was active in the
details concerning the event and take down their contact made by the offender? neighborhood.
information. Does a historically established animosity exist
Were there any offensive symbols, words, or acts
which are known to represent a hate group or between the victim’s and offender’s groups?
12) Be prepared to serve as and advocate for the victim. The Is this incident similar to other known and
other evidence of bias against the victim’s group?
victim may want to speak to the media about the event; in documented cases of bias, particularly in this
Did the incident occur on a holiday or other day
which case, you may serve to translate for the victim. The area? Does it fit a similar modus operandi to
of significance to the victim’s or offender’s
victim may also decline to speak to the media, in which case, these other incidents?
you shall ensure that the media is not allowed to harass the Has this victim been previously involved in
What do the demographics of the area tell you
victim. similar situations?
about the incident?
Is the victim a member of a target racial, Are there other explanations for the incident,
13) DO NOT refer to the event as a bias crime (this is a legal such as a childish prank, unrelated vandalism,
term that only the police should use as a label after the religious, disability, ethnic/national origin, or
sexual-orientation group? etc.?
conclusion of their investigation), make any statements to
Were the offender and the victim of different Did the offender have some understanding of
the media concluding that this was a bias crime, make any
race, religion, and ethnicity/national origin? the impact his/her actions would have on the
promises and guarantees that you cannot fulfill or instruct
Would the incident have taken place if the victim victim?
the Sikh community or the local community in any way.
Keep steadfast in your duty to assist the victim and collect and offender were of the same race, religion, and
ethnicity/national origin? Remember, if you are unsure of what to do or say,
data. All other activities carry the potential to place you in
Were biased oral comments, written statements, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REGIONAL
violating the law. Previous bias incidents have taught us that
or gestures made by the offender that indicate DIRECTOR FOR GUIDANCE!!!
some very disturbed individuals have staged bias events for a
variety of petty reasons, to the insult of the Sikh community.