Know Your Rights Forum at Nanak Naam Jahaj Gurudwara

January 31st, 2018

SALDEF organized another successful Know Your Rights Forum this past weekend on Sunday, January 28, 2018, in Jersey City, NJ at Nanak Naam Jahaj Gurudwara. There were approximately 150 members of the Sangat who took part in the event and heard guest speakers from the Department of Justice, the NJ-Dept of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Mr. Michael Rojas from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was the first speaker, he covered the role of the EEOC, focusing on the enforcement of civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. Mr. Rojas said,  “Our ultimate goal is to prevent discrimination in the workplace.” He also noted that you have 300 days to file a report of the initial incident.

Mr. John Paige from the NJ-Dept. of Homeland Security spoke about what NJ-DHS does, how they coordinate with Federal Government on threats and about an interfaith quarterly meeting they conduct to partner with the local community. Mr. Paige encouraged the Sangat to be vigilant in reporting crimes, saying, “It empowers people (the assailant) if you don’t report hate crimes and harassment.”

Mr. Anthony Zampogna, from the FBI, spoke about the recent uptick in hate-crimes, what constitutes a hate-crime and how to report it. Mr. Zampogna said, “The matter of hate crimes is the highest priority in our civil rights program and in the past year we have engaged in a lot more investigations than in past years.”

Ms. Suzanne Buchanan of the Dept. of Justice Community Relations Service spoke about conflict resolution between communities and resolving misunderstandings between law enforcement and minority communities. She also spoke about school bullying and what to do if your child is a victim. She suggested reaching out to your local affiliate in the DOJ, to conduct in school mediation with the faculty, contacting SALDEF to help in working with your school administration, and working with local officials and representatives on introducing Sikhism to the curriculum or conducting special presentations.

Overall the Know Your Rights was a success, the speakers spoke about specific issues regarding the Sikh American community and encouraged all members of the Sangat to approach their departments.

We would like to thank the management of the  Nanak Naam Jahaj Gurudwara, and Gurdwara President Karnail Singh, for hosting a wonderful event, and the Sangat for their engagement and thoughtful questions!

SALDEF is committed to empowering the Sikh American community nationwide about their rights and how to exercise them without fear or hesitation.

If you feel your Sangat could benefit from a Know Your Rights forum, please complete this form or contact know-your-rights@saldef.org.

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