AAPI groups support Sikh community after Wis. shootings

Groups from across the nation have condemned the Aug. 5 shootings at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee, and expressed their support for the community.

The shootings left seven people dead, including the gunman, Wade Michael Page.

Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, who was shot several times, is among those who were injured.

“The events in Oak Creek are a wake-up call to all Americans about the importance of tolerance and underscore the constant need for education about diversity and respect for the different cultures in American society,” the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) said in a statement.

“The Sikh American community has been the target of hate crimes in the past. We hope that this tragedy will compel Americans to unite as a single community opposed to intolerance and hate,” said Priscilla Ouchida, executive director of the JACL.

Assemblymember Warren T. Furutani (D–Long Beach), chair of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, expressed his “deepest condolences for the family, friends, and community directly impacted by this horrific act of violence.”

Last year, his office “worked closely with the Sikh American community on two informational hearings regarding the challenges the community has faced since 9/11, and we heard many deplorable stories about hate violence aimed towards Sikh Americans. If there is a pattern of hate violence being developed in the United State(s) against this community or any others, then we must do everything we can to end it,” Furutani said in a statement.

“While the nation is baffled by this senseless act of domestic terrorism, local and federal investigators are not ruling out racialized motivation by the assailant,” OCA, a national organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans, said in a statement.

Since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Sikhs have been “tragically profiled in this country as being affiliated with the Taliban or other terrorist organizations targeted for hate crimes that include but are not limited to: vandalism, verbal taunting, and physical assaults at home, work, and places of worship — in a number of incidents resulting in serious injury and death. Possibility of persecution based on cultural ignorance and bias has long been a concern for the civil rights community,” the OCA said.

South Asian Americans Leading Together, a national nonprofit organization, has created a list of ways to support the Sikh community:
• Attend a vigil: http://bit.ly/OakCreekVigils

• Send the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wis. a message: http://groundswellas.nonprofitsoapbox.com/sikh-solidarity

• Contribute to a fund for the families affected by the shooting:
Donations are being accepted to help cover the victims’ funeral costs: www.wepay.com/donations/117846.

A fund has been created to benefit the victims, their families and injured police officer Lt. Brian Murphy: www.indiegogo.com/Milwaukee-Sikh.
Contribute to a memorial fund: The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin has set up a victims fund, where people can send donations via mail to: Victims Memorial Fund c/o Sikh Temple, 7512 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek, WI 53154.

For more information on how to support the community, visit http://blog.saalt.org/?p=2047.

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