Residents of Oak Creek, Indian- Americans, members of the Sikh community and lawmakers on Friday remembered victims of the tragic mass shooting by a white supremacist four years ago that claimed the lives of six Sikhs at a gurdwara in the Wisconsin city.
In Oak Creek, the local Sikh community will be organising the fourth annual Chardhi Kala 6K Run/Walk, blood drive, and food drive on August 6.
On Sunday the victims’ families are expected to speak at a function.
“We hold this event to bring communities together, to bring people of various backgrounds together to show them who we are and to learn who they are in hopes of creating a stronger bond and preventing something like the August 5, 2012 shooting to ever happen again,” said Navi Singh Gill, founder of the Chardhi Kala 6K event, and son of one of the founding members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
“Building safe and inclusive communities takes sacrifice, dedication, hard work, and deliberate practice,” Pardeep Singh Kaleka, eldest son of the late Satwant Singh Kaleka, the president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin who was killed in the shooting, told NBC News.
“If we don’t bring people together because of fear, then we are cowards and have no business calling ourselves Sikhs,” he said.
Six Sikhs were killed and three more were wounded, along with an Oak Creek police officer, when a white supremacist armed with a gun attacked the Oak Creek Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.
Responding officer Brian Murphy was shot fifteen times before the shooter was brought down.
“Four years ago a man driven by hate and armed with a gun invaded such a place, took six innocent lives, and, in doing so, attacked an entire community of the faithful. Today’s anniversary serves as another reminder of the importance of engaging in a national conversation about hate in America and the policies we can enact to disarm it by keeping guns out of dangerous hands,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign in a statement.
Congressman Donna Edwards in a tweet urged people to honour the six victims and four survivors by acting to end gun violence.
“We remember the victims of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting four years ago today,” said Ant-Defamation League (ADL) in a tweet.
“Oak Creek reminds us all that backlash targets Sikhs, South Asians, Muslims, Arabs,” said Sikh Coalition.