This small Milwaukee suburb in Wisconsin took its first surest steps towards normality on Thursday when the police returned the Gurdwara to the Sikh community.
And on Friday, three of the six killed in the Sunday carnage at that Gurdwara will be cremated. There was no clarity about the remaining bodies, some saying they might be sent to India.
The police had stopped public access to the Gurdwara as investigators needed to survey the crime site extensively, and collect forensic evidence.
After getting it back, nearly 200 Sikh community volunteers cleaned up the building removing all signs of the shooting, except one bullet mark.
“We have decided to retain it — as a reminder of the tragedy,” said Harpreet Singh, an Oak Creek Sikh.
The mark — in the hallway — will stay just as the bullet marks in the 1984 case of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Oak Creek Sikhs also took a significant step towards the larger question of the community’s integration, at a Town Hall meeting with representatives from the White House, Department of Justice, the FBI and local authorities.
White House official Joshua DuBois assured the community of all the help it needs, saying: “We are all Sikhs.” And that President Obama was standing with them. But members of the community wanted larger assurance. They said the shooting was not an isolated incident but a part of a history of discrimination in the country, going back to before 9/11.
Valerie Kaur, a filmmaker and interfaith organiser, said: “There is an opportunity here the community has never had before to advance the struggle for rights and recognition.”