Decades after Wisconsin Gurudwara massacre Sikh Americans continue to face unconscionable harassment, violence

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By Link News Network

Remembering Oak Creek 2012 shooting: The deadliest attack on Sikh Americans in U.S. history. 

The fateful day of August 5, 2012 shocked the entire Sikh American Community and the Sikh diaspora worldwide when a white supremacist gunman stormed the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, murdering worshippers and community members in the deadliest act of anti-Sikh hate in U.S. history. 

Threats to the Sikh community because of mistaken identity had risen in the aftermath of 9/11, but that Sunday morning was like a terrifying nightmare, tragically coming true in the most gruesome manner.

US President Joe Biden said steps need to be taken to reduce gun violence and defeat domestic terrorism and hate in all its forms. “The Oak Creek shooting was the deadliest attack on Sikh Americans in our nation’s history. Tragically, attacks on our nation’s houses of worship have only become more common over the past decade. It is up to all of us to deny this hate-safe harbor, “he said.

“While a decade has passed, Sikh Americans continue to face unconscionable harassment and violence, including in the houses of worship where so many seek peace and solace,” said US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai in a joint statement issued on the tenth anniversary of the deadly massacre.

On August 5, 2012, 40-year-old Wade Michael Page, who had ties to white supremacist organizations, started shooting indiscriminately at devotees in the Gurudwara in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. Horrendous moments of terror followed. Sounds of gun, shrieks and scenes of blood and death. Several tried to save themselves but six devotees died and several got injured. All of those who died were Sikhs.

The U.S. Department of Justice declared the mass shooting both a hate crime and a terrorist act.

“Our hearts are heavy as we remember Suveg Singh Khattra, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, Paramjit Kaur Saini, Prakash Singh, Baba Punjab Singh, and all those impacted by the tragedy. The attack in Oak Creek was not just an assault on the Sikh community, but America itself — and we join with millions of people who have been touched by the unwavering Sikh tenet of Charhdi Kala, or eternal optimism. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect our communities, and the Biden-Harris Administration continues to work closely with faith leaders across the country to combat bigotry and intolerance in all their forms,” Becerra said.

Punjab Singh who had been paralyzed after being shot on that day, also passed away in 2020 following complications the injuries had caused, according to United Sikhs, a non-profit organization, that acted swiftly following the tragedy to stop further damage. “We continue to make efforts to create awareness about Sikh identity to reduce bias and stop hate crimes against Sikhs and other minorities,” said United Sikhs in a statement.

Wisconsin governor Tony Evers ordered the flags of US and the state of Wisconsin to be flown at half staff to mark the 10th anniversary. “The shooting remains a reminder of the work that still must be done to protect all communities in US against the rising threat of targeted, hate-fueled violence,” Evers said.