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Ravi Bhalla becomes the first turbaned Sikh American Mayor of Hoboken New Jersey

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Ravi Bhalla elected the new Mayor of Hoboken, N.J.

HOBOKEN, NJ (Diya TV) — Two term Hoboken City council member Ravi Bhalla became the first turbaned Sikh to be elected mayor of the city of Hoboken, New Jersey. Tuesday night, Bhalla was all smiles, thrusting his arm in the air to celebrate his victory becoming one of the first Sikh mayors of a U.S. city. Sikh-American lawyer with a record of fighting discrimination, Bhalla says, “I’m everything that Trump hates. A brown man wearing a turban, and a proud American with the know-how to stop his assaults on our country’s values.”

A victory that didn’t come easy. Bhalla ran against five other candidates in Hoboken, a city of 50,000. The Saturday before election, Bhalla tweeted that the fliers about terrorism were “troubling, but we won’t let hate win.” CBS News reported that the fliers did not name the group that paid for them, a violation of state election law.

The community celebrated in part disbelief and part joy.

Simran Jeet Singh, a friend and support of Bhalla and a fellow turbaned Sikh tweeted in disbelief

“Given how much we’ve endured in this country, and frankly the fact that we have been here for more than a century now in the U.S. and have felt largely ignored and neglected as a minority community, this is for us a signal shift, where we feel like we’re getting on the map. This is a major development for us,” Simran Jeet Singh, a religion fellow at the Sikh Coalition, said. “And it comes in a context where, like many minority groups, we’re facing xenophobia.”

Gurwin Ahuja, executive director of the National Sikh Campaign, said Bhalla is one of the first Sikh people to become mayor of a U.S. city. Satyendra Huja served as mayor of the city of Charlottesville, and some small towns have had Sikh mayors.

Ahuja said that whoever made the fliers implying that “turban” meant “terrorist” interpreted the turban completely wrong. “Sikhs are instructed to be actively involved in their communities…. In fact, the reason why Sikhs wear a turban is because it represents our value of equality and to stand up against injustice wherever we see it,” he said. “The turban represents our commitment to those values of equality — gender equality, racial equality and religious tolerance — and our duty to stand up for those rights. In India, back in the day, when people would see a Sikh, they knew that was someone they could go to for safety.”

Bhalla, finished first among six candidates in the winner take all race, with 4,781 votes with around 34% of votes. DeFusco totaled 4,116 votes, or approximately 29 percent, according to Hudson County Clerk election results, which do no include mail-in and provisional ballots.

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Exclusive: One on One with Sen. Kamala Harris at Impact Summit 2018

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Kamala Harris

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Earlier this month, more than 200 Indian American candidates, elected officials, among others gathered in Washington for the inaugural Impact Summit, an effort to build a long term political network for the diaspora. All five Indian American members of Congress spoke at this event that was sponsored in part by Diya TV. Below is a transcript of an interview conducted on site by Ravi Kapur with Democratic California Senator Kamala Harris for our public affairs program “The Public Interest,” edited for clarity.

Q: We just had the California primary and turnout was really low. Given the political environment that you see here in Washington, now in your role as a senator, do you feel that folks are just uninspired to come out to vote, no matter who the candidate is?

A: Actually, I don’t. I’ve been seeing a level of activeness and participation that actually gives me a lot of optimism about our future. I’ve been seeing young people, teenagers, middle school students who are coming out, who are thinking about issues, who are speaking about issues. You look at those kids from Parkland, Florida, high school students, and what that has excited around high school students around the country to speak up about issues like gun violence. You look at the dreamers and the DACA kids who are coming by thousands to the United States Capitol, walking the halls of Congress to speak about immigration policy. If you look at all the young people, in particular, who are coming out to talk about issues linked to disparities around race or economic disparities and inequalities.

I actually am very excited about what I have been seeing — a record number of women who are running for office, many whom have never run for office before. So I think there is something about this very difficult moment of time, which is where we are right now, where we have powerful voices that are sowing hate and division. The other side of that is activating a lot of people to say, ‘I’m not going to stand for it. I’m going to get out. I’m going to stand up. I’m going to stand up. I’m going to speak out.’ So I think it’s very exciting and the only thing I would ask everyone, and all of your viewers, is stay involved. Stay involved because your issues will not be heard if you don’t stay involved, if you don’t speak out. You can speak through your vote, you can speak through your voice, but get involved in elections, campaigns. Look up candidates, whoever speaks up to your values and your issues, but stay involved. That’s how democracy works. And we won’t be seen if we’re not heard.

Q: Speaking of involvement, you’re the first Indian American woman ever to hold a Senate seat. A lot of folks look to you for inspiration. What message do you impart to all these young folks who aspire to be where you are today?

A: That they just keep in their role of leadership, keep speaking about truths, speaking about truths, even if they are difficult to speak, even if they are difficult for people to hear because that’s how we cultivate trust. That’s how we actually forge ahead in terms of the kind of leadership we need. We need to speak difficult truths, whether it be about race, whether it be about income equality, whether it be about gender equality. Let’s speak the truth about the things we want to see happen, around the topic of immigration reform and to stay involved. It’s really important.

Q: It appears many Democrats and Republicans are not necessarily talking to each other, but rather over each other. How do we get more folks involved and engaged in politics so they are not talking over each other? Also, do you have a game plan for 2020? President Trump said he is running again and Democrats are still looking for that national leader fill the void.

A: Part of what we have to do is focus on 2018. That’s where I’m focused at the moment. I think we have to focus on 2018. The re-elections are coming soon, 152 days, I think, from today (June 7). And the decisions we make about who will be in these positions of progress, whether it be in the Senate or the House of Representatives, will be very important and pivotal to issues like what we are going to do around immigration for this country. So I really urge people to stay focused on 2018.

Watch all of the interviews from the Impact Summit on The Public Interest with Ravi Kapur, Sunday at 9 am & 5 pm local time, exclusively on Diya TV.

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NBA champs Golden State Warriors at the forefront of celebrating American diversity

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Stanford's competitive dance group Basmati Raas perform outside the Oracle Arena as fans make their way to see the NBA champs take on the Phoenix Suns

OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV) — The Golden State Warriors dominated this regular season game during Black History Month against the Phoenix Suns, all while showcasing Indian culture & heritage. From pre-game performances outside the Oracle Arena entrances, to on court displays of brilliant choreography and Indian dances, the Warriors celebrated their annual Bollywood Night bigger and better than ever.

Mandeep Singh Dhillon from San Jose is excited for his three kids who love Bhangra as much as they love Basketball

Mandeep Singh Dhillon from San Jose is excited for his kids who love Bhangra as much as they love Basketball

The evening began with a performance by Sikh dance group know as “The Lion Kings”, kids ranging from as young as 7 years to 16 years of age danced while getting the crowds going. Up next, on another entrance, Stanford’s competitive dance, Basmati Raas strutted their stuff ‘Gujju-style’ in Warriors Blue & Yellow showing how this next generation of American Born Desi kids are not ABCDs but ABPDs…American Born Proud Desis!

Before tip-off the Warriors All Stars – Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson & Draymond Green, received their all-star jerseys. While the splash party continued in the first half, the halftime show belonged to the always incredible Bhangra Empire. They brought down the house, ‘Punjabi-style’ with a colorful & masterful display of choreography and Sikh culture.

This performance was followed by Bhangra by the Bay, which is just what the crowd needed. Steph score 22 and new addition Omri Casspi scored 19 for dominant 129-83 victory for Golden State.

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Democrat Doug Jones beats Republican Roy Moore for Alabama Senate seat

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In one of the most intensely fought elections in 2017, Democrat Doug Jones, a former prosecutor has defeated the scandal-clad Republican Roy Moore. Moore who had the endorsement of President Trump, despite allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour, was defeated on Tuesday in Alabama, a deeply conservative state that last elected a Democratic senator 25 years ago. The upset delivered a surprising victory for the Democrats shaving the Republican Senate majority down to a single seat.

Roy Moore, the Republican candidate who was abandoned by a majority of his own party leaders, lost to Democrat Doug Jones in a battle that wasn’t a battle until the allegations of sexual misconduct began surfacing, including by a woman who was under-age at the time she was allegedly assaulted. Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted:


Moore was running to fill a seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions who is Trump’s attorney general and lost to Jones, a former US attorney who had prosecuted two members of the Ku Klux Klan for a 1963 bombing of a church in which four African Americans girls had been killed.
Just hours before the polls opened President Trump tweeted:

But despite the presidential endorsement, Moore was defeated by Jones becoming the first Democrat Alabama has sent to the US senate since 1992. His upset victory owes much to Moore’s flawed candidacy, but was pulled off by the Democratic party machine that poured money and resources sensing a chance, howsoever small at the time, of victory. Including a helping hand from Alabama-native and former NBA star Charles Barkley, who campaigned for Doug Jones. He told CNN “Roy Moore was an embarrassment. I am just so proud of my state. We’ve got some amazing people here and they rose up today”

President Trump congratulated Jones on his victory, over twitter:

After initially holding back his endorsement, Trump had come to fully embrace Moore, arguing that if the allegations were proven, the Republican candidate should step aside. But he needed every vote in the Senate to push through legislative agenda, which has had a patchy run thus far.

Trump broke with most members of his party, including the senior Republican senator from Alabama Richard Shelby who had announced they would not vote for Moore. Jeff Flake, a Republican senator from Arizona, public announced he had donated to Doug Jones’ campaign. Roy Moore hasn’t conceded to Jones and has asked for a recount stating, “It’s not over. I demand a recount. We need to wait for God.”

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