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10 years after Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara Shooting, United Sikhs moves to end hatred against minorities

Oak Creek, August 5, 2022 (Yes Punjab News)
The fateful day of August 5, 2012 shocked the entire Sikh American Community and the Sikh diaspora worldwide.

Threats to the Sikh community because of mistaken identity with Afghans 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.

To the consternation of everyone around, a 40-year-old bald neo-Nazi white Supremist started shooting indiscriminately at devotees in the Gurudwara in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek in Wisconsin.

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. We lost Paramjit Kaur, Prakash Singh, Ranjit Singh, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Sita Singh, Subeg Singh Khattra.

Punjab Singh who had been paralyzed after being shot on that day, also passed away in 2020 following complications the injuries had caused.

Despite deep shock, United Sikhs acted swiftly following the tragedy, owning the responsibility to stop further damage — to recover from trauma and take measures, to heal the Sikh American psyche, to create awareness about Sikh identity.

United Sikhs mobilized its teams to help the community immediately. After the shooting, we set up emergency response teams.

The United Sikhs Emergency Response Team, composed of trained professionals and counselors, reached Wisconsin to provide immediate and first-hand assistance to the families dealing with the tragedy. Trauma counselors were brought in to heal traumatic stress related effects of the event on the Oak Creek Community at large.

Our teams launched the “I pledge against Hate Crime” campaign to raise awareness against such senseless acts.

A Task Force to communicate with law enforcement agencies was deputed to ensure community confidence in their safety is restored.

We also extended the National Helpline 1-855-US-UMEED to all individuals seeking assistance as they came to grips with the tragedy.

For constant communication with the media and community members, our teams ensured accurate information regarding the unfolding events and the Sikh panth was sent out to the public.

We called upon Inter-faith communities to show solidarity by holding prayer vigils in places of worship. Our teams also created an action plan and toolkit for community safety.

The editorial team in collaboration with top trauma specialists prepared a self training manual ‘Helping Families Cope with Violence and Disaster’ comprising all the important aspects related to helping both individuals, as well as Sangat in Gurdwaras, overcome trauma resulting from natural and man-made disasters.

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