Remembering Oak Creek, One Decade Later
On August 5, 2022, our nation marked the 10-year anniversary of the 2012 Oak Creek gurdwara shooting tragedy. We solemnly remember Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suveg Singh Khattra, Satwant Singh Kaleka, and Baba Punjab Singh. We continue to be inspired by the perseverance of those who were also critically injured at the time: Bhai Santokh Singh and Lt. Brian Murphy. And we admire the strength of the entire Oak Creek sangat, which sets a powerful example of resilience for the entire nation.
Our Work to #RememberOakCreek
The Sikh Coalition would like to thank all of our allies and partners in Oak Creek and across the nation for the collaborative efforts to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2012 attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. First and foremost, we thank the families of those who were lost for graciously welcoming us to be a part of this remembrance of their loved ones.
Additionally, the Sikh Coalition is grateful to leading community sevadaars Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Navdeep Singh Gill, and Mandeep Kaur; our partners from the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee; event sponsors and vendors including The Asian American Foundation; the members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin gurdwara leadership committee; speakers for Friday’s vigil from outside the sangat, including interfaith leaders, Lt. Brian Murphy, Mayor Dan Bukiewicz, Governor Tony Evers, James Santelle, Erika Moritsugu, and Melissa Rogers; government representatives including those from the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service; and all community members locally and out-of-state who volunteered during the weekend’s events.
We look forward to sharing a roundup of the press coverage around the anniversary this coming week.
Voices from Oak Creek, Charleston, and Pittsburgh at Virtual Congressional Briefing
On July 26, the Sikh Coalition held a congressional briefing entitled Honoring Oak Creek, Charleston, and Pittsburgh Through Action. During the Q&A panel portion of the event, members of the Oak Creek, Charleston, and Pittsburgh communities--all of which have been targeted in violent acts of hate in the past decade--discussed these and other policy solutions with lawmakers and members of their staff. Featured speakers on the panel included Harpreet Singh Saini of Oak Creek, WI; Pastor Eric S. C. Manning of Charleston, SC; and Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers of Pittsburgh, PA. Additionally, we welcomed remarks throughout the event from Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL); Senator Gary Peters (D-MI); and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY). Watch the full briefing here
National Day of Seva and National Night of Vigil
In addition to the events in Oak Creek, more than 20 cities across the nation participated in the Sikh Coalition’s National Day of Seva or National Night of Vigil programming. Participating sangats included those in Detroit, MI; Charlotte, NC; Fairfax, VA; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Bellingham, WA; Lawrenceville, NJ; Salt Lake City, UT; Indianapolis, IN; Dayton, OH; Cincinnati, OH; Asbury Park, NJ; Orangevale, CA; Salem, OR; Enola, PA; San Antonio, TX; Federal Way, WA; Albuquerque, NM; East Greenbush, NY; Olathe, KS; Oakland, NJ; Lexington, KY; Lenexa, KS; and New York, NY.
National Day of Seva projects included efforts to clean up community parks, host food drives, provide meals to homeless shelters, and more; National Night of Vigil Programs brought together interfaith speakers for community commemoration. We extend a warm thank you to all of the incredible sevadaars who facilitated their sangat’s participation in these initiatives.
Abuse of Sikh Migrants, Dastaars by Border Control
On August 2, reports emerged
alleging that officers of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol were seizing and throwing away the dastaars of, and otherwise abusing, Sikh migrants. In response, the Sikh Coalition sent a letter
to DHS Secretary Mayorkas calling for an immediate end to this practice, a full investigation, and greater respect and dignity for these individuals (some of whom were suffering other abusive behavior, including being denied vegetarian meals). We have since sent follow-up communications to the White House and key congressional leaders to ensure accountability; these conversations continue, and we will provide more updates when appropriate.
We are grateful to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the International Rescue Committee’s Phoenix Welcome Center for bringing these accusations to light, and we look forward to working with them, as well as other partners in the civil rights movement and government officials, to address this urgent issue. Click here
to learn more about the Sikh Coalition’s response.
Afghan Sikh Family Arrives Safely to United States
After more than a year of coordination between government officials and Sikh community advocates, one multigenerational Afghan Sikh family safely arrived
to New York via the United States Significant Public Benefit Parole Program. The program enables them to stay for at least one year while the Sikh Coalition facilitates immigration legal services to assist with long term settlement in the United States.
The Sikh Coalition continues to advocate for the Humanitarian and Significant Public Benefit Parole Programs to be made accessible to all Afghan Sikh and Hindu families, though that is not currently the case. We will continue to do our part by advocating for this small community so they are not left behind or forgotten by U.S. authorities--especially as the one-year anniversary of the withdrawal approaches at the end of this month. Click here
to learn more.
Upcoming CLE Conference for Legal Professionals
Next month, the Sikh Coalition will host our second annual Realizing Justice For All legal conference in partnership with law firms Winston & Strawn LLP and Weil, Gotshal, & Manges LLP. Click here
to learn about the panels, Pro Bono Sevadar of the Year award recipient, and the two guest speakers who will deliver special addresses.
As a reminder, legal professionals who attend the conference will acquire 3.0 CLE General or Elimination of Bias credits (depending on your state). Click here
for registration information and to reserve your seat for the conference. We look forward to seeing you there!
Legal Director Recognized for Lasting Contributions
In July, Sikh Coalition Legal Director Amrith Kaur Aakre received the 2022 South Asian Bar Association (SABA) North America’s Public Interest Achievement Award. This award recognizes Amrith's lasting commitment to serving the public throughout her career. Click here
to learn more about the Sikh Coalition’s current and past landmark legal cases.
Do you have a passion for civil rights? The Sikh Coalition is looking to hire for two full time positions:
The Director/Senior Director of Development and Operations
will manage the fast-paced growth of the Sikh Coalition’s fundraising and operations. In this position, you will be responsible for managing and growing the organization’s annual budget of $2.4+ million, driving our fundraising strategy and execution, and strengthening the organization’s operational infrastructure and management practices. Click here
to learn more and apply; applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis.
The Education Manager
will play a key role in supporting our education campaigns and content development. This position will also provide direct guidance and support on analysis, strategy, and priorities in relation to our education policy work. Click here
to learn more and apply; applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis.
In this Issue