WASHINGTON — Aug. 5 marked the one-year anniversary of shooting in Oak Creek, Wis., during which a gunman opened fire in a Sikh gurdwara, killing six people and injuring several others.
The victims, one woman and five men, ranged in age from 39 to 84. The gunman, who had ties to white supremacist groups, took his own life after being wounded by police.
Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus released the following statements:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “One year after gunfire shattered the peace of the gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wis., we are reminded of the frailty of life and the power that prejudices hold in our society. As we mark this solemn day and remember the six people who were lost, we must work to ensure that discrimination and hateful acts based on intolerance do not have a place in our nation.”
Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), CAPAC chair emeritus: “One year after the tragedy at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, where six innocent men and women were gunned down due to their religious beliefs, we must pause and reflect on this terrible loss. As our nation grows ever more diverse, we must also remain vigilant that the principles of religious liberty that America was founded upon are not trampled on, and that people of all faiths are welcomed and protected from harm. With the FBI’s recent announcement that it will begin tracking hate crimes against ethnic and religious minorities, I hope that future tragedies such as this may one day be prevented.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC whip: “Today, the victims of last year’s shooting at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple and their families are in my thoughts and prayers. Practicing the values of peace and acceptance, the Sikh community has always reflected the ideals and diversity of our nation. As we pause to pay tribute to the victims, let us reject the sentiments of hate and intolerance that caused this tragedy. Oak Creek was yet another reminder that we must all work to reduce gun violence so all Americans can live safely in our free society.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Rancho Cordova): “Since the Sept. 11 attacks, too many Sikh Americans have been wrongfully subjected to hate crimes and discrimination. Our own community has not been immune from this violence — in 2011, two elderly Sikh Americans, Gurmej Atwal and Surinder Singh, were shot while out for a walk in Elk Grove. The Oak Creek shooting is another horrific example of violence and intolerance against Sikhs.
“I have worked closely with the Sikh American community and I am committed to protecting domestic civil rights. The Sikh faith promotes equality, religious tolerance and community service. Religious tolerance is a fundamental value of our nation and I hope we can come together to prevent tragedies like this from ever occurring again.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “On the anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. This senseless act of violence in a house of worship took the lives of six and wounded four more. Sadly, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Sikh community has been increasingly attacked because of their appearance. It is my hope that the FBI’s recent decision to start tracking hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs will help shine a light on the problem of violence against religious and ethnic minorities in this country. We must work together to prevent these hate crimes and promote tolerance towards Americans of all faiths and backgrounds.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “A year ago today, tragedy struck our country when a senseless act of violence took the lives of six Sikh Americans and injured others in Oak Creek, Wis. at their house of worship. One year removed from these events, we remember the victims, and continue to speak out against discriminatory acts of hate. This horrific shooting is an affront to the peaceful values of the Sikh community and to our American ideals of religious freedom and tolerance. Today is a sobering reminder of the necessity for a serious national dialogue and thoughtful action by Congress to keep guns out of dangerous hands.”
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.): “It is with a heavy heart that we commemorate the one year anniversary of the senseless shooting at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis. As we reflect on this tragedy, we recognize that deep-seated prejudice still exists in the United States. Hate crimes and racial profiling simply have no place in our society. Sadly, this anniversary stands as a stark reminder that much more remains to be done to combat these societal ills.”
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton): “Today marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those we lost as well as the entire Sikh community. On this day of remembrance, we must continue to focus our efforts to stop acts of gun violence, senseless hate crimes that have no place in our society, and the hate speech that can incite them.”
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo): “The first anniversary of the senseless violence at a guardwara in Oak Creek, Wis. demands that we stop our daily lives to remember and to pray that people of all backgrounds and faiths gain a better understanding of the peaceful values of the Sikh community in America. The death of six Sikh Americans and the suffering of those who were injured in this hate crime cannot be undone. But we must never allow this act to rest in silence until it fades from memory. I ask that we renew our commitment today to reject the discrimination and profiling of Sikhs and any other people who pursue a life of peace in this world.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Hayward): “One year after the shooting in Oak Creek, we remember the victims and reaffirm our commitment to fighting hate where it exists so this type of tragedy never happens again. I am pleased the FBI just announced it will begin tracking hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs, an important action that will hopefully prevent other crimes of this nature. We must continue our efforts to draw attention to hate in society, enact commonsense reforms to prevent gun violence and honor the memories of the six Sikh Americans we lost that terrible day.”
To see profiles of the victims, click here.