ACTION ALERT: Request For Community Action
Following the deadly shooting at the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, on Sunday morning, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) extends its heartfelt sympathies and Ardaas to the victims and their families and the Wisconsin sangat and expresses our solidarity with the community as they attempt to move forward from this great national tragedy. Additionally, we are grateful to the countless law enforcement officers and agencies that provided such remarkable support and protection, and prevented what could have been a greater tragedy.
Here, we provide an update on what is happening in Wisconsin, across the nation, and actions community members can take to show support for the victims.
National Observances and Candlelight Vigil for Solidarity
Sikh Americans across the nations are urged to gather and hold to and reflect on this tragedy. Wednesday, August 8, is being observed as a National Day of Remembrance and Solidarity. We encourage communities to post their observances on this page.
As you begin to plan events locally, please reach out to SALDEF at [email protected] so that we can share it online and through social media.
To help you organize an event in your area, we have created an organizing toolkit available here. Additionally, we have worked with our partners at the Sikh Coalition, the Sikh Research Institute, and UNITED SIKHS, to develop a set of talking pointsabout Sikhism, post 9/11 incidents, and what people can do to help the victims and their families.
Additionally, on Sunday, August 12, we request Sikhs and people of all faiths to observe a moment of silence, sing a poignant shabad or in some way honor the victims of this tragedy at their gurdwaras and places of worship.
On August 6, President Obama issued a proclamation ordering that all flags should be flown at half-staff through Friday, August 10, to honor the victims of the shooting.
Update from Wisconsin
A press conference held on the morning of August 7, shared information about the shooting at the Gurdwara in Oak Creek. This past Sunday, Wade Michael Page, opened fired on members at the Gurdwara. He shot and killed six people, critically injured three others, including a police officer who was first to respond to the scene.
The names of the deceased and injured were released. Five men and one woman were killed; Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65; Prakash Singh, 39, Paramjit Kaur, 41; and Suveg Singh, 84. Three people remain in critical condition; Bhai Punjab Singh, Santokh Singh, and the first officer to respond to the scene, Lt. Brian Murphy. Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families, and we offer a special thanks to Lt. Murphy for his bravery and valor and would like to acknowledge the heroism and sacrifice of Shaheed Satwant Singh Kaleka.
Read more about the victims -- Wisconsin Temple Shooting Victims: Putting Others First (CNN)
SALDEF Executive Director, Jasjit Singh, has been in Oak Creek, Wisconsin since the night of Sunday, August 5. Jasjit has been working hand-in-hand with community members, the Oak Creek Police Department, the FBI and the local media, as well as our sister Sikh organizations. Additionally, SALDEF staff have been responding to hundreds of media requests in the past two days, and continue to conduct interviews with numerous media sources to ensure accurate portrayal of the Sikh faith and ensure that the gravity of this unprecedented event is given ample coverage. Examples include:
- AUDIO -- Oak Creek Tragedy Puts Sikh Community in Spotlight (NPR)
- VIDEO -- Interview on Fox WakeUp (Fox News)
- AUDIO -- Sikhs Face More Attacks After 9/11 (NPR)
Details on the Investigation and Possible Motive
As details emerge about the gunman, SALDEF has been in contact with federal authorities to ensure a thorough investigation is made into this incident. Page, was a 41-year-old white male who was alleged to have ties to white supremacist groups well known to hate-group monitoring organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to ADL's Center on Extremism, Page was the leader of "End Apathy," a white power music band affiliated with the longstanding hardcore racist skinhead group with a history of violence and hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Page was a “frustrated neo-Nazi.” Knowing this information, it is apparent that Page purposely targeted the members of the Gurdwara out of feelings of hatred.
To support the victims, the injured police officer, and their families, we ask that, in a show of solidarity with Wisconsin and its Sikh community, that you please donate now. All contributions are tax-deductible. The funds will be used to defray the costs of medical bills, funeral expenses, psychological counseling and sustaining the lives of the widowed. To donate, please go to https://www.wepay.com/
- BROCHURE -- Who are the Sikhs Brochure
- WEBSITE -- Learn About Sikhs
- BROCHURE --Welcome to the Gurdwara Brochure
- DOCUMENT -- Summary of Sikh American Community Observations
- HOW TO GUIDE -- Organizing a Vigil in your Local Community