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Thousands Show Support for Sikhs Killed in Temple Shooting

Residents packed Henry Miller Park for a community vigil held in solidarity with Sikh Temple of Wisconsin members who lost friends and family members in Sunday's shootings.

It was thousands of residents gathering at Henry Miller Park, many of them wearing kerchiefs in solidarity with the Sikh community.

It was a community in mourning, just two days after unthinkable violence took away six members of the Sikh Temple, an act that sent shock waves throughout the entire country and world.

It was, simply put, a night never before seen in Oak Creek.

On Tuesday night, a throng of people held candles, prayed and remembered those who lost their lives during Sunday's shootings. They came from all different backgrounds, but united in a desire for love to conquer over hate, for serenity to reign victorious over fear.

They mourned the six people killed in Sunday's shootings: Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Paramjit Kaur, Suveg Singh and Satwant Singh Kaleka.

The crowd heard the life stories of each one, as their picture was held up from the podium and tears flowed from audience members.

Amardeep Kaleka spoke about his dad, Satwant Singh Kaleka, the president of the temple who rushed to stop the gunman and likely saved lives. His father would love the idea of a community coming together, he said.

"My dad would say ... I lived 65 good years, I did my best, and everybody around me came to celebrate it," he said. "And he's probably up there going, 'Great. Everybody's together.' Now let's have a moment of change."

Sikh leaders even made a point of recognizing the shooter, Wade Michael Page, saying they hoped the apparent hatred that filled this life would not follow him into the next one.

It's the kind of forgiveness and sentiment that Sikhs have become known for since Sunday, making what happened on Sunday all the more confusing.

The setting for Tuesday's event could not have been more appropriate. The vigil came at the end of National Night Out, an event held annually to bring neighbors together and instill a sense of community. It also carries a crime prevention theme and aims to help residents better know their law enforcement.

On a night in which Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy lay in the hospital, shot at least eight times in Sunday's attacks, speakers said the festivities and the message at the went far beyond the city limits.

"Tonight even more so, National Night Out is not just for Oak Creek, it's not just for Wisconsin, it's not just for America," Gov. Scott Walker said. "Tonight, we're coming out all across the globe to show that what happens in this community, in this state and in this country is about what we see here this evening.

"It's not about what happened a few days ago. The thing I want our children and our grandchildren to remember is nights like tonight ... to show support for each other. To live a little bit stronger. To live a little bit closer."

Walker's message was along the lines of what Police Chief John Edwards said he saw on Sunday: an anonymous passer-by using his own vehicle to block traffic on Howell Avenue and prevent cars from entering what was a dangerous area. Or the owner of Classic Lanes, who shut down his bowling alley to give food and water to Sikh Temple members.

In the end, it won't be the violence that defines Oak Creek, Mayor Steve Scaffidi said.

"It's a single tragic event, but it's not who we are," he said. "It will only serve to build a stronger community and increase our resolve against senseless violence and hatred."

Kathy T August 08, 2012 at 01:38 PM
As one of the speakers said last night....this wasn't a Sikh tragedy it was an American tragedy. That statement is so true and it was shown by the faces that turned out in support of the Sikh community last night. It is great to see that Oak Creek supports it own!
Encee August 08, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Recognizing Wade Michael Page is representative of the philosophy of Sikhism and Hinduism. Wade Michael Page is a fragment of God, so were the people he shot.
Encee August 08, 2012 at 02:08 PM
In 28 years of law enforcement, I have seen a lot of hate. I have seen a lot of revenge. I've seen a lot of anger. What I saw, particularly from the Sikh community this week was compassion, concern, support. What I didn't see was hate. I did not see revenge. I didn't see any of that. And in law enforcement that's unusual to not see that reaction to something like this. I want you all to understand how unique that is."-Police Chief John Edwards
Local supporter August 08, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I'm very proud of our community, our officials, and our police and fire departments. The have once again, shown nothing but class, tact, and heroism.
Cassie Donahoe August 08, 2012 at 03:08 PM
It was an amazingly powerful night in Oak Creek! It's hard to explain what it felt like being there to people who didn't make it out...It was entirely moving and completely beautiful to see our community come together.
Ellen C. Warren August 08, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Very beautifully put, Police Chief. Thank you for sharing that. I wish those words could reach the ears of the world.
Mohinder SIngh Sohal August 08, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I Salute your feeling for Sikh community you have. Sikhs are Peace loving people and their mission is Live and let live.
Bob & Gail Toerpe August 08, 2012 at 06:22 PM
MY HUSBAND AND I WERE THERE IN CATHOLIC SOLIDARITY WITH THE SIKH COMMUNITY. I SAW AND MET TWO WHO LOST A SPOUSE: A WOMAN WHO LOST HER HUSBAND, LEAVING HER AND TWO YOUNG CHILDREN; AND A GENTLEMAN WHO LOST HIS WIFE, THE ONLY FEMALE KILLED. BOTH FACES WERE WAN AND PALE AND IT LOOKED LIKE THE LIFE HAD BEEN DRAINED OUT OF THEM. HAVING LOST A SISTER AND DAUGHTER SOME TIME AGO, I UNDERSTAND THE DEEP SADNESS AND PAIN. AS WITH OTHERS, I'M PRAYING FOR THIS GENTLE PEACE-LOVING COMMUNITY AND NOW I UNDERSTAND THEM A LITTLE BETTER. MAY GOD'S LOVE AID THEM THROUGH THEIR DIFFICULT TIMES. AND, IF THEY CAN FORGIVE THIS COWARDLY SHOOTER, I CAN LOOK TO FORGIVING PEOPLE IN MY OWN LIFE. GAIL
Kathie Johannes August 08, 2012 at 11:50 PM
My prayers are with the entire Sikh Community and the City of Oak Creek as we all try to heal from this horrific tragedy.
doc1954 August 09, 2012 at 12:11 AM
very well said John
MaryJ August 09, 2012 at 03:14 AM
We recently moved from Oak Creek where we lived for 15 years, to Texas. I was truly just sick when I heard the news of what happend. As Mr. Jagler had mentioned in his story, you just cannot believe that something like this could have happend in Oak Creek. You here of all the other tragedies that happen but never, ever think it could happen in your city. My deepest sympathy to all for the lives lost. I cannot say enough for the officers that showed nothing but being true heroes. The police force in Oak Crrek has always been the best of the best but they really showed exactly how great they are with their response to this horrific event. My thoughts and prayers continue for Lt. Murphy. I am stunned and amazed on how far reaching all of this is. Here in the Dallas metroplex area, flags are flying half mast and there is a huge vigil being held tonight here in Texas for all those that lost their lives but they are dedicating this vigil to Lt. Murphy. Multiple times a day I hear tributes to him and all that the police of Oak Creek and the community have done for those affected at the temple. Just want to let you all know in Oak Creek that even as far as Texas you are being thought of and prayed for. The Sikh community here have joined forces to keep vigils going and praying for all of you. How amazing how much love and compassion has come out of all this.
dr mehta August 13, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Thanks Ellen, I'm happy to tell you that those words have reached the ears of the world. I am in the city of Chennai, in India. It is great to see that Oak Creek supports it own! Best wishes to all of you and most of all, to Lt Brian Murphy. Mehta

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