By Mekialaya White

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – New data out from the FBI is showing a record number of hate crimes reported to Colorado law enforcement in 2020. The total number of hate crimes jumped to 281 in 2020, from 225 in 2019.

Data also shows that here in our state, the most common community targeted for race-related crimes was Black and African American people, with 96 crimes reported last year. The Hispanic and Latino community was the second most targeted group, with 34.

Senior Manager for Policy and Advocacy at the Sikh Coalition Nikki Singh shared her thoughts on the findings with CBS4’s Mekialaya White, noting the profound impact in her community.

“This data is concerning and especially so for Sikhs. Nationally, there is a 37% increase in anti-Sikh victimizations between 2019 and 2020.”

Singh has advocated for the Sikh community previously on CBS4 in the case of Lakhwant Singh.

(credit: CBS)

“He was working at his store in Lakewood when he was brutally attacked by a customer. The attacker, Eric Breemen, entered the store Mr. Singh owns with his wife, damaged numerous items within the store, shouted profanity, and told the Singhs multiple times, ‘Go back to your country,’” said Ms. Singh, who is not related to the family. “The Singhs repeatedly asked Breemen to leave and when he did, Mr. Singh went outside to take a photo of Breemen’s license plate in order to report the harassment. Breemen then used his vehicle to ram Mr. Singh, throwing him several feet across the parking lot, and he was left with significant bodily injuries from the attack.”

Breemen has since been charged with a hate crime. Still, Ms. Singh says there is much more to be done to remedy the problem.

(credit: Singh Family)

“Far too many law enforcement agencies continue to not report hate crimes and bias incidences appropriately which leads to these statistics likely being an under-representation of the true scope of the problem. We have to accurately name and track hate crimes in order to understand the scope of the problem and allocate resources and develop effective solutions.”

Ms. Singh says those solutions begin with raising awareness and education.

“We continue to encourage people to practice their faith fearlessly. The Sikh faith really believes in living in chardi kala, which is eternal optimism, and that’s the message that we like to focus on. (We also believe in) the concept of well-being for all, so when we’re doing advocacy, it’s not just for us it’s for all vulnerable communities so I would encourage people to keep that mindset in their day to day lives and move forward with that mentality.”

Mekialaya White