The Modesto Bee – In wake of attacks, Sikh-led town hall urges unity and awareness

Garth Stapley <>

Modesto – California – USA, 17 August 2018. About 150 people gathered Thursday in Modesto to denounce hate crimes and urge acceptance for people of all backgrounds.

The town hall meeting was prompted by recent reports of two separate attacks on turban-wearing Sikh men, near Keyes and in Manteca. But organizers also hoped to “create awareness and unity,” said Jaspreet Kaur, 209 community organizer for Jakara Movement, the nation’s leading nonprofit for Sikh youth.

Several young Sikhs led the charge Thursday, urging peaceful but firm response to disturbing acts.

Ranjot Kaur, a California State University, Stanislaus, student from Livingston, said she was “shocked and stunned, but unfortunately not surprised” to learn of the attacks.

“We fear what we don’t know, or don’t understand,” said Jagjot Singh of Ceres, who studies biology at Stanislaus State. He praised the evening’s “beautiful turnout.”

Gursimar Kaur, a Livingston High School student, called for all people to “practice kindness and generosity.”

Jaspreet Kaur said she was impressed at support from groups other than Sikhs, including the NAACP; the Modesto, Turlock and Manteca city councils; state Senator Cathleen Galgiani and representatives of other state and national office holders.

Naindeep Singh, executive director for a valley chapter of Jakara Movement, said 118 hate crimes were reported to authorities in Stanislaus County from 2007 to 2017, and 121 in San Joaquin County. Most victims were black, he said.

Thursday’s gathering helped “lift and amplify voices that are often neglected,” he said.

Garth Stapley

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