August 5, 2019 (New York, NY) – Today is a day of remembrance.
As our nation continues to mourn in the aftermath of hateful acts of violence in California, Texas, and Ohio, we mark the seven-year anniversary of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin shooting. On August 5, 2012, a gunman with white supremacist ties attacked the Oak Creek gurdwara, taking the lives of six Sikh worshipers and injuring several more. We remember the names and lives of those who were lost: Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suveg Singh Khattra and Satwant Singh Kaleka. We also remember those like Baba Punjab Singh, who continue to live with the injuries of this tragedy, and all those who lost family and loved ones.
Yet we also recall how Sikhs everywhere reacted in the days after–namely, with a renewed determination to give back to their communities, prevent further tragedies and care for all people.
While the Oak Creek sangat previously organized an annual Chardhi Kala 6K Memorial Walk and Run in the Sikh spirit of eternal optimism, they have since decided to host this event every five years. The next Chardhi Kala 6K is scheduled to take place in 2022 around the 10-year anniversary.
In the past, inspired by the Oak Creek sangat, the Sikh Coalition has worked with communities across the country to organize a National Day of Seva
(selfless community service) in commemoration of the Oak Creek tragedy. This year, we are refocusing these seva efforts around Guru Nanak’s 550th gurpurab, encouraging gurdwaras throughout the United States to invite others to learn more about Sikhism by hosting open houses
and seva projects
“These changes to the collective commemoration of Oak Creek do not reflect a shift in our organizational priorities, and they certainly will not stop us from remembering this tragedy like it was yesterday,” said Sikh Coalition Executive Director Satjeet Kaur. “In the wake of hate-fueled shootings in American houses of worship in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and California, we continue to prioritize our efforts to combat and prevent hate.”
The Sikh Coalition plans to renew the National Day of Seva project in conjunction with the Oak Creek 6K in 2022.
In 2012, the Sikh Coalition began working directly with Oak Creek community members to ensure that federal law enforcement finally began tracking anti-Sikh hate crimes
–which came to pass in 2015. We have also relentlessly advocated for hate crime laws that better protect minority communities in states that have flawed or non-existent legislation. And over the past six years, the Sikh Coalition has also worked with hundreds of Sikh community members across 50 cities to commemorate Oak Creek. We remain committed to remembering those we lost in 2012–and preventing further tragedies in the future through education, outreach and advocacy.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.