FBI to start keeping track of hate crimes against Sikhs, Arabs and other religious groups

Echo Park hate crime sticker

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

An Echo Park resident wears a sticker following a recent stabbing that the LAPD said it was investigating as a possible hate crime.

The FBI keeps statistics on crime in the Unite States, including hate crimes. But many religions are excluded, including Sikhs and Hindus, who've been increasingly targeted since 9/11. 

Crimes motivated by anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, and anti-Islamic sentiments are tracked by the FBI. That leaves many faiths – like Sikhism, Hinduism, and Mormonism – in the "other" category. 

Jyoti Nanda, a law professor at UCLA, works to raise awareness of such crimes in Southern California and around the state. But she said it’s been hard to get funding without statistics to back up her requests.

"It was difficult for us to go to the government and say, 'We need X number of dollars for resources to do this type of work' when we didn't have statistics to back it up," Nanda said. "Even though we had so many anecdotal stories of crimes that were happening against our community."

Like an attack last month in Fresno. An 82-year-old Sikh man was beaten with a metal pipe as he stood outside a temple. The man accused in the beating told police he didn't like: "those people."

Starting in 2015, such crimes will get their own category. In addition, the FBI will separate out crimes motivated by "anti-Arab" bias from other ethnicity-based crimes. 

The move comes after years of pressure from civil liberties groups. It will include religious groups based on a Pew Research Center study  and census data: Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Orthodox, Other Christian, Jewish, Islamic (Muslim), Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Other Religions, Multiple Religions-Group, and Atheism/Agnosticism.

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