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a decade later, Sikhs say the hate that drove Oak Creek shooting is currently mainstream

A decade ago, a white supremacist opened fire in the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee. Friday marks ten years because the gunman killed six people and wounded several others, among whom would die from his injuries in 2020.

The picture as a whole: Experts and family of the victims say the white supremacist ideologies that motivated the 2012 attack have finally gone mainstream.

Zoom in: On Aug. 5, 2012, 18-year-old Harpreet Singh Saini’s mother woke him around accompany her to the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He was too tired, he told Axios, so Paramjit Kaur Saini ultimately left for the gurdwara alone.

  • Not even half one hour later, his aunt called a shooter had entered the home of worship.
  • PardeepSinghKaleka, whose father founded and led the gurdwara, knew immediately that his parents were in the crosshairs. He told Axios he later learned his father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, had fought the gunman off with a butter knife and suffered five shots at close range.

Saini’s mother and Kaleka’s father both died that day. “There have been feelings of shock that something similar to this may happen in a location of worship,” Kaleka said. “That day resulted in weeks and months after just attempting to grab the pieces.”

State of play: Members of the Sikh community became targets in the post-9/11 landscape, often recognised incorrectly as Muslims and vilified as terrorists.

  • Sikh Americans in the united states have been urging the government to start out tracking anti-Sikh hate crimes, said Sim J. Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s senior policy and advocacy manager.
  • Just weeks following the shooting, Saini testified prior to the Senate Judiciary Committee, asking lawmakers to “give my mother the dignity to be a statistic.” In 2015, the FBI officially began documenting anti-Sikh hate.
  • The agency’s 2020 report on hate crimes and bias showed that anti-Sikh incidents were at their highest level because the FBI first began tracking them Sikhs were the 3rd most targeted faith community in the U.S.
Photo of a man hugging a man seated at a table in a hearing room
Kamaljit Singh Saini wishes his brother, Harpreet Singh Saini, luck before he testifies at a congressional hearing on hate crimes and the risk of domestic extremism on Sept. 19, 2012. Photo: Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Because the Oak Creek shooting, white supremacist ideologies have widened their reach across America, driving the fantastic Replacement Theory, new extremist groups and several more hate-motivated mass shootings, in accordance with Michael Lieberman, senior policy counsel at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

  • “Within the last year, the FBI, DHS … the White House, Justice Department, everybody recognizes that the main threats now are white supremacists and anti-government militia groups,” Lieberman told Axios.
  • An April poll conducted by SPLC and Tulchin Research discovered that over a third of Americans have the countrys changing demographics certainly are a threat to white Americans and their culture and values.

What they’re saying: The U.S. requires a “whole-of-society” response, Kaleka said, pointing to having less a robust mental healthcare infrastructure, inadequate education on Sikh American communities and deeply rooted toxic masculinity. Many Sikhs also have called on the government to mandate hate crime reporting, which remains voluntary.

  • The Sikh Coalition has been pushing for Congress to go forward with three bits of legislation, like the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which aims to generate better federal standards for investigating white nationalist and supremacist groups. (The bill cleared the home but didn’t pass the Senate.)

The picture as a whole: Today, the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin is fortified with security camera systems. No-one can enter unless the stationed security guard or perhaps a priest lets them in.

  • The city has planned several events to mark the 10-year anniversary, including a vigil, workshops on threat assessment and interfaith gatherings.
  • The Sikh Coalition may also be holding its annual National Day of Seva, which were only available in 2013 to honor the lives lost. Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike are invited to take part in community service events in the united states.

“There is plenty of anger in the immediate aftermath … but it is a fuel that’s exhausted rapidly,” Kaleka said.

  • What fuels them now could be compassion, he said, pointing to tenets of these faith love and inclusion, mission and purpose.
  • His father lived those values, Kaleka said. “At any point he may have abandoned his host to worship. The exit door was 10 feet away. But he previously a thing that was worth fighting for.”
  • “To numerous Sikhs … there is no greater sacrifice or what we call martyrdom shaheedi than to die in the area that you helped build. Individuals that you helped build it for. And that can not be recinded from him by any government or white supremacist.”

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