Memorializing the 10th anniversary of the Oak Creek Gurdwara carnage, Oak Creek, Wisconsin!

The carnage at the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was the first time when a white male targeted a Sikh house of prayer on Aug 5, 2012 in our nation. It has been ten years, but this was not the first time that Sikhs have been beleaguered with violent racism.  Hate, bigotry and violence against Sikh-Americans has always been there for more than a century. The crimes against the Sikh religious community have waxed and waned over decades.

There are many factors for the xenophobia against the very distinct and distinguished religious community. Some of those are; societal factors, the role of media, the role of education in schools, the role of the state, specific laws against hate crimes (which are now mostly in place) and leadership.

There was definitely an uptick in serious crimes against Sikh Americans under the leadership of the former President of our country which has taken its toll on many. Based on the current data by the Department of Justice – USDOJ, from 2019 to 2020 the crimes against Sikhs have gone up by 82%.

Every year, Sikh Americans remember the members of their faith who became victims of the mass murder at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Gurdwara. Six innocents were slain, and many others were wounded. The ones whose lives were taken away that fateful day on August 5, 2012 were Satwant Singh Kaleka, Paramjit Kaur, Sita Singh, Suveg Singh Khattra, Ranjit Singh, and Prakash Singh. Punjab Singh was shot and wounded, finally succumbed from his wounds on March 2, 2020. We will never forget them!

Lt.Brian Murphy who was one of the first responders, a police officer, stood up for the innocent congregants while taking over a dozen bullets to defend them inside the Gurdwara on that fateful day. He was a true hero!

Hate crimes against Sikh Americans have taken place in almost every state in the union on a regular basis and has not spared little children or seniors either. It behooves our nation’s leadership at every level to be cognizant of protecting everyone equally and respectfully, so that no one is left behind or otherized.

By memorializing this day and remembering the victims each year, all Sikh Americans have an opportunity to reflect and contemplate ways to not only prevent hate crimes but how to proactively engage with the larger society around us in order to make a safer tomorrow.

American Sikh Council (ASC) President Jasbir Kaur stated, “On this 10th anniversary we pray and remember the victims and their families who were impacted by of the Oak Creek Gurdwara carnage. We beseech all Americans to join us in remembering this solemn occasion, and make sure no one of any religious faith is targeted for what they wear or how they look.”

The American Sikh Council continues to engage with all religions and denominations from the local to the national, across the country through interfaith dialog, so that there is better understanding and mutual respect for a peaceful nation.

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