Sacramento, CA (February 26, 2009) - A proposed law to mandate kirpan education for California's peace law enforcement officers was introduced by Assembly Member Warren Furutani (D-Long Beach) in the California State Legislature this week. Since November 2008, the Sikh Coalition has been working alongside state lawmakers and law enforcement representatives to draft this legislation. Were it to pass, this would be the first law pertaining specifically to the Sikh kirpan anywhere in the United States.
A Kirpan Education BillThe proposed law would require training about the kirpan for every law enforcement officer who has the ability to make an arrest in California. The bill states explicitly, "It is the Legislature's goal to promote education and awareness of the carrying of the kirpan by Sikhs in California." The training would advise officers about "how to recognize and interact with persons carrying a kirpan."
A History of Needless Arrests
The legislation arose out of the increasing number of Sikhs being arrested for carrying their kirpans. Because Sikhs carry kirpans required by the Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct), they can be arrested and charged with violating state or local concealed weapons laws. Such arrests violate Sikhs' rights and are a waste of taxpayers' money.
In the past seven years, the Sikh Coalition has successfully resolved over 20 criminal cases involving the carrying of a kirpan. Each time, prosecutors have either agreed not to bring charges or a judge has dismissed the case because they recognized the religious significance of the kirpan.
"The Sikh community, who are a vibrant, peaceful, and law abiding part of our state, should not live in fear of arrest by law enforcement for carrying the kirpan, which is an integral part of their religious faith," said Assembly Member Furutani. "I am pleased to be working with the Sikh Coalition and the law enforcement community to develop a meaningful piece of legislation."
The Sikh Coalition would like to thank Assembly Member Furutani for his leadership in introducing this legislation, and for his commitment to California's Sikhs. The Sikh Coalition would also like to thank Nitasha Kaur Sawhney, the Coalition's local partner in California, for bringing this issue to the Assembly Member's attention. Nitasha has played a central role in the introduction of this historic bill.
Over the coming months, the Coalition will work with California's Sikh community to ensure their local members of the State Assembly support this bill. If you live in California and would like information on how you can persuade your local legislators to support this bill, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly. If someone tells you to remove your articles of faith, please report the incident.
dinsdag 3 maart 2009
Historic Kirpan Bill Introduced in California
Geplaatst door Sikhs