By Cassandra Lans
Following the terrible tragedy that left 6 people dead and 3 in critical condition from the hands of an alleged White supremacist, people of diverse backgrounds have united to show their support and condolences for the victims and their families.
Prayer vigils, moments of silence, and the cancellation of events have all occurred to show respect and honor for the families and the community affected by this tragedy.
Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, Inc. has lived in Oak Creek for many years, the temple is located not far from his home, cancelled his grand opening of a new store. Growing Power released the following statement: “The grand opening of Growing Power’s Northside Milwaukee Deli & Food Market has been postponed in respect for those who tragically lost their lives and those injured in Oak Creek, WI, yesterday. At Growing Power, we honor the diversity of the greater Milwaukee community and hold in the highest esteem the values of tolerance, inclusion and peace. Oak Creek has been the hometown of our founder, Will Allen, for over 30 years, and we are tied not only to the land but also to every person and organization within this community. Therefore, our hearts are heavy with sorrow and we stand in communion and solidarity with the Sikh community of Wisconsin.”
Countless other religious and non-religious groups have held prayer vigils, and offered help and assistance for the Sikh community. On Sunday, at the Gospel Stage of African World Festival, four area pastors held a public prayer for the victims prior to their performance on stage.
On Thursday, The Hindu Temple of Wisconsin also held a prayer vigil, “The terrible tragedy at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek has touched us all very deeply and in many personal ways,” says Anand Adavi, president of the Hindu Temple of Wisconsin. “We stand in solidarity with our Sikh brothers and sisters. We share the great pain and loss of the Sikh community and the affected families and join other faith communities in offering our heartfelt prayers for the victims.”
Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) and Rev. Willie Brisco, president of MICAH, Inc. offered its heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those affected by the shooting. “We continue to strengthen our mission and resolve for active, purposeful, and peaceful community outreach across the broad spectrum of multicultural communities in Milwaukee focusing on our mutuality’s through education rather than emphasis on differences in order to bring about citywide change and resolution.” Brisco stated.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore said, “I am deeply saddened by today’s events which took the lives of these innocent members of our community. My thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those that have lost loved ones as well as the families of those injured in this senseless act of violence. I will continue to monitor this situation as it develops.”
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) released a statement following the shooting expressing condolences. “Houses of worship, like the gurdwara, are places of peace. Attacks at any of the nation’s houses of worship must be condemned by all Americans. This type of crime strikes at the very foundation of religious tolerance, the principle upon which this country was built. We thank our friends and neighbors from across the country for the outpouring of support and condolences as we come together to recover from the attack.”
Founded in 1996, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) is the oldest Sikh American civil rights and educational organization in the country. SALDEF’s mission is to protect the civil rights of all Americans and ensure a fostering environment in the United States for Sikh Americans. SALDEF empowers Sikh Americans through educational outreach, media relations, leadership development and legal and legislative advocacy.
This tragedy has also allowed for an opportunity to learn more not just about Sikh Americans, but also the hate groups that still exists in the United States. The shooter was allegedly a member of a White supremacist group, and a member of so-called hate-rock band. As more information comes out, the public is also learning that White supremacist groups have actually grown after the election of the nation’s first Black president.
The six victims of Sunday’s attack were identified by police as five men — Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65; Prakash Singh, 39, and Suveg Singh, 84 — and one woman, 41-year-old Paramjit Kaur. The wake and visitation were held on Friday, Aug. 10.