On fighting hate & bias HAF hosts virtual event with federal law enforcement

I Am Hindu American


In order to bring more focus on the role of federal law enforcement in combating hate and bias targeting the Hindu American community, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) hosted a virtual town hall event in partnership with the US Department of Justice, on Thursday, June 17.

Taniel Koushakjian, the current Policy Director of HAF, kicked off the event with opening remarks on HAF’s work to address hate and bias, including its instrumental role in adding an anti-Hindu category to FBI tracking of hate crimes in 2015, its seminal bullying survey, ‘Fight Hate. Educate’ campaign, and state and federal advocacy to strengthen hate crimes reporting and training requirements for law enforcement.

Many prominent figures from the community and the police department had joined the event to share, and discuss about the current situation of extreme bias and hate that the United States is facing.

Some of the speakers included Justin Lock, DOJ CRS special assistant for AAPI Issues; Sarah Saenz, acting unit chief with the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs Community Relations Unit; Sandra Torres, a supervisory special agent from the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division’s Civil Rights Unit; Laura Vartain Horn, chief of the Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California; and Sharanya Mohan, assistant United States attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, in the Civil Division.

Former HAF board member Padma Kuppa voiced in her thoughts and on her struggle to fight hate/bias impacting her larger community the Hindu and the importance of engaging with federal law enforcement and the DOJ.

“As the first and only Hindu in the Michigan legislature, I hope that speaking today on this sensitive and important topic helps other Hindus and Asian Americans of all backgrounds to stand tall, to resist bias and bullying, in whatever way they become engaged in the civic arena, and for all of us to work together to stop hate,” said Kuppa.

According to the press release, Kuppa was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Samir Kalra, HAF managing director, on the federal response to bullying and religious discrimination, hate speech, community safety, and hate crimes.

“We’re thankful to all of the speakers for providing important insights on the work of the federal government to deal with issues of hate, bias, and discrimination and the resources available to assist the community,” said Kalra.

“I look forward to many more similar events in partnership with the Department of Justice and opportunities for further dialogue and collaboration to help better protect the Hindu American community,” the release said.