After the Sikh Temple Shootings: What's Next?

Now that media attention on Oak Creek has died down, Sikh Temple of Wisconsin members and the Oak Creek community try to move forward.

National television networks are no longer camped out behind Classic Lanes.

The vigils have passed. The community mourned together at Friday’s funeral, and on Sunday the temple reopened.

For the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, a new reality is setting in.

It has been 11 days since a lone gunman entered the Howell Avenue temple , fatally shooting six members and injuring four more.

Families of the victims begin lives without parents or grandparents, siblings, cousins and children. The temple holds services without its president and five other valued members.

They go on the way they are taught: by stepping up and filling a role, said temple member Beant Singh Boparai.

For Boparai, it means welcoming into his home family members of Punjab Singh, a priest who was critically injured in the attacks, and taking them to Froedtert Hospital for visits.

For others, it means volunteering in the temple kitchen, or counseling children struggling to understand what happened.

"We are trying to get on our feet," Boparai said.

But for the most part, temple members are in good spirits, he said. That's a big part of the Sikhs' peaceful mission and teachings. The Sikh community even forgives the shooter, Wade Michael Page, and prays for him and his family.

"Difficult times come and go. It doesn't stay there all the time," Boparai said.

"If there is a dark, there will be a light also."

That outlook has made it easier for members to return to the place where such a violent outburst took place. Boparai said he and many others feel comfortable there despite what happened, though children might feel afraid.

Police Chief John Edwards said the department is working with the temple to make sure members feel safe. Though the temple is again open to the public, police still had a presence there Wednesday morning, with a squad car parked in the lot.

Signs of support

When it comes to support, Sikhs don't have to go far to find it.

Walk into the entrance area of the Oak Creek Sikh Temple and you are constantly surrounded by it. 

Not just from the temple's kind and compassionate people, who are more than willing to speak to any Oak Creek resident about any question they have (and many have stopped by since Monday).

But with the large banners that have come in from all over the country — and even the world.

They came from Colorado, from Canada, from California and elsewhere, with signatures and words of comfort during the Sikh Temple's difficult time. Sikhs and non-Sikhs across the nation held vigils last week in response to the horrific violence in Oak Creek.

Boparai said the response has been overwhelming. He said he's still getting phone calls from people just asking how they can help.

"They are coming here around the clock, every day," he said.

The Sikh Temple, in turn, erected a large banner along on Howell Avenue thanking Oak Creek for its response (Though some on the Oak Creek Patch Facebook page countered that it should be the city thanking the Sikh Temple for its peaceful response and openness following the shooting.)

Oak Creek rebounding, too

The Oak Creek community, too, is trying to heal and stay united following the most violent event in the city's 57-year history.

After a traumatic first few hours, particularly with reports of multiple gunmen, the community quickly went into support mode for members of the Sikh temple and the family of Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, who was shot as he went to aid shooting victims.

Mayor Steve Scaffidi wants to keep the support going and use the experience to improve relationships within the city.

He plans to help set up a liaison for the Sikh Temple — someone who city officials could reach out to with questions and for the Sikh community to relay concerns to the city.

Scaffidi also said he wants to fill an open position on the Community Development Authority with a Sikh Temple member.

That person would be "directly involved in a committee that's responsible for the development of our city," he said.

"I think that's a good match."

The temple's trustees, too, are discussing ways to become more involved in Oak Creek, Boparai said.

Incorporating the Sikh community into the fabric of Oak Creek has been discussed often over the past week. But in many ways, the temple already was a quiet part of the community — it just took a tragedy for residents to realize it.

Many families live in the community. Dozens of children from the Sikh temple attend Oak Creek schools. Boparai, for example, has a sophomore at Oak Creek High School and another son who graduated from OCHS and is enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Aug. 5 may have marked the end of one chapter for the Sikh temple and the city, but the hope is the next chapter is one that celebrates diversity and inclusion.

"We're a city whose diversity is growing," Scaffidi said. "That's a good thing. It enriches the life experience ... I'm going to embrace that, and I want our citizens to embrace it as well."

vocal local 1 August 16, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Mayor Steve Scaffidi won't add the Sikh Temple Shooting to discussion but he's more than willing to attend Milwaukee Biz Mag. 25 dollar panel discussion along with the chief's of police and fire to pat themselves on the back for the good job they have done. NOTHING is being done to wipe out the ignorance and hatred identified by Gov. Walker. Nothing is being done to stop these sorts of hate crimes as promised by Eric Santell, US Attorney for the Eastern District of WI. and Teresa Carson Head of Milwaukee's FBI. What a bunch of competent or is it incompetent officials is my take. It's over, it's done. Were going to see more. Another act of domestic terrorism in Wash DC yesterday. Four Sheriff's shot today, two dead, two wounded in LA. But sweep it under the rug and praise for the officials who did such a good job in responding. Save me.
Local supporter August 17, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I seriously can not believe how ignorant you are. You can't sweep this under the rug and no one is trying to! It was the most publicized and violent crime our city has ever had. Society, in general, is a mess and it's going to get worse, not because of officials. Much of it has to do with the economy and the fact that in a two family household both parents have to work and in some homes children are raised by Playstation rather than their parents. Mr. Scaffidi IS working to stop the ignorance. If you would have read the article, it tells you clearly what actions he is taking to that end. Mr. Scaffidi, Mr. Rosandich, and Mr. Edwards handled that situation and the draining hours with nothing but class and tact, as well as their entire staffs. They DO deserve a pat on the back and quite frankly, much more than that!
vocal local 1 August 17, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Just a minute sweetheart: ig·no·rant/ˈignərənt/Adjective: 1.Lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated. 2.Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular: "ignorant of astronomy". You certainly evidence your ignorance as a respondent here. If it's not being swept under the rug what is being done? Are there any community meetings scheduled to discuss what happened and what is going to be done? Not to my knowledge. As I stated Mayor Scaffidi won't even put it on the agenda for discussion. None of this had to do with the economy. None of this had to do with playstation. Reportedly, Wade Page was a perfectly normal individual until he got messed up with PSYCOPS while serving in the army at Fort Bragg N.C. where the base had a significant problem with "White Supremacist". Furthermore, the article states Mayor Scaffidi is going to try to put a Temple member on the CDA END OF STORY. As for Rosandich and Edwards, allow me to remind you that the police chief of the Greendale was called in to handle the situation and post the FBI/Homeland Security took over. Regardless of these facts both chiefs are high end salary paid employees of the city that were only doing their jobs. I doubt if you have a clue as to what evidences class and tact. The entire investigation went south post Wednesdays press conference in my opinion post the unofficial release of the officers name that prior reportedly shot and killed the perp.
Joe Todor August 18, 2012 at 12:39 AM
the "perp" killed himself
vocal local 1 August 18, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Joe, we were told from Sunday until right before Wednesday's press release at 10:30 AM in fact right before I heard an OC police officer say that when the perp ran into the officer that the perp ran into a bus, that the second officer killed the perp. Once the officer's name leaked onto the internet the story changed. What do we believe? Government wouldn't lie to us now would they?
Joe Todor August 18, 2012 at 01:11 AM
The officer shot the perp... No one could be sure what actually killed him (first) until the official autopsy ... The officer's bullet MAY have eventually killed him if not for the perp's self-inflicted gunshot wound.
vocal local 1 August 18, 2012 at 09:20 AM
Joe, there was continuos coverage of the shooting by the press the first day and lots after. In none/zero did we hear any report of the perp shooting himself. The FBI/Homeland security moved in and took over the incident as suspected Domestic Terrorism. So far they have not been able to determine a motive and without a motive the incident doesn’t meet criteria for classification as Domestic Terrorism. Classification is critical in determination of what funding the city may receive and apply for to cover costs incurred. Also, the FBI was going to study all videos and map the projections of the bullets to understand exactly what went on in the temple. We know that the police practice headshots. The veteran officer reportedly is the best shot on the force and in charge of the indoor range. He had a high-powered assault rifle and a 75-foot shot. An officer and others were down. He had the building as a backdrop, the perp stood alone. Common sense tells me there is more to this story than is being released to the public. We have allowed an elitist branch of government not only to develop but to continue to gather strength and numbers, act without transparency, that is not accountable to “We the people” and a local government that regards itself as a business entity. I want discussion, we have a need and RIGHT to know and none of the agencies involved is forthcoming with answers.
OC Oldtimer August 18, 2012 at 04:35 PM
The air quality around We Energies must be affecting the residents!!!
vocal local 1 August 18, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Do you really think the air is the cause of the meretricious popenjays or is it the fact that today one's value is measured in proportion to their bank accounts not their ability and competence.


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