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State Attorney Anita Alvarez visits Palatine Gurudwara, addresses hate crimes against Sikh community

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Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez paid a visit to the Palatine Gurudwara speak about the rise in hate crimes against the Sikhs. (Gurnik Singh / The DePaulia)

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez paid a visit to the Palatine Gurudwara to speak about the rise in hate crimes against the Sikhs. (Gurnik Singh / The DePaulia)

Gurudwara Sahib, a Sikh community center in the northwest Chicago suburb of Palatine, was a hustle and bustle with activity March 22 as Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez paid a visit to speak about the rise in hate crimes against the Sikhs.

As founder of the Hate Crimes Advisory and Prosecutions Council in Cook County, which was launched this year, Alvarez said she plays an active role in attempting to “create and maintain relationships.”

“As part of the council, it is my job to reinvigorate efforts to raise awareness. Hate crimes go unreported and have a ripple effect on the entire community,” Alvarez said.

During the presentation, a video was shown of  a 12-year-old Sikh boy wearing a turban who was mocked by his peers and called a “terrorist” on a public school bus.

“The boy in the video is actually my grandson,” attendee Kildip Singh Makker said.  “He came to me many times saying that his classmates mocked him daily and it made me feel so bad.” He added that, “all this is due to intolerance and misinformation.” Makker suggested educating the youth at an early age about Sikhism as part of the curriculum.

In response to Mr. Makker, Sue Walton, an elementary school teacher from neighboring Rolling Meadows said, “By bringing this into the curriculum of school, the age-old debate of the “separation of church and state is put squarely in the picture.”

Another in the room, Mr. Satnaam Singh Mago said, “It’s funny that all other cultures from Islam to Christianity are taught in schools but Sikhism is not.” He addressed this as the reason why people become misinformed and react in ways we see today. He brought up the Boston Bomber story and how a Sikh man  had been arrested in connection to the crime..

During the presentation, speakers said that the turban became a symbol of the terrorist after 9/11 and this led to the rise in bullying and hate crimes.

“The rate of reporting off these hate crimes has lessened despite the fact that the FBI tracks these crimes,” Alvarez said. “People do not report because they may be too embarrassed. It’s the responsibility of the (Hate Crimes Advisory and Prosecutions Council)  to help these people see that they are not the only ones.”

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State Attorney Anita Alvarez visits Palatine Gurudwara, addresses hate crimes against Sikh community