Packed room at public viewing of Senate hate crimes hearing

CAIR-Chicago hosted a public viewing today of a Senate hearing entitled “Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism” – chaired by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. The event was co-sponsored by the Asian American Institute, the Indian American Bar Association and the Muslim Bar Association.

A packed room of approximately 40 people attended the event, including:

  • Clarisol Duque – Chicago Director of Senator Durbin’s office
  • Alderman Ameya Pawar of the 47th ward
  • Ami Gandhi – Executive Director of the South Asian American Policy Research Institute (SAAPRI)
  • Andy Kang – Senior Staff Attorney with the Asian American Institute
  • Arnold J. Romeo – Director of the Advisory Council on EQUITY at the Chicago Commission on Human Relations
  • Betsy Shuman-Moore – Project Director of the Fair Housing Project and Project to Combat Bias Violence at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. (CLCCUL)
  • Reema Ahmad from the Asian American Institute
  • Charna Epstein – Deputy Alderman and Chief-of-Staff for Ald. Pawar of the 47th ward
  • Rishi Agrawal – President of the Indian American Bar Association of Chicago
  • The Senate hearing was held to examine the upswing in hate crimes and the growing number of hate groups in the United States. The Sikh Coalition led the effort in proposing the hearing at the request of over 150 civil rights and advocacy organizations. The hearing included witness testimony from the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), among others.

    Many of the statements made referenced recent attacks on the Muslim, Sikh, Latino, and African-American communities, including the shootings of Sikh men and women at a Gurdwara in Wisconsin, and the string of attacks on the Chicago Muslim community during the last week of Ramadan this past year.

    One of the more revealing statements made during the hearing was that the majority of terrorist attacks in the U.S. came from right-wing extremists, according to expert testimonials.

    CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, and fellow staff live-tweeted during the event – noting these findings and expressing their hopes for a future without bigotry and racism.

    The Senate hearing on hate crimes and domestic extremism was the first of its kind, and a necessary step in the direction towards standing up against hateful speech and acts. Senator Durbin emphasized tackling homegrown terrorism – which Sikhs, Muslims, and other minorities are often the victim of, as primary responsibilities as a nation that values the protection of its citizens and their civil liberties.

    CALL: Thank Senator Durbin for hosting a critical hearing on hate crimes and domestic extremism

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