milwaukee – UNITED SIKHS Blog Recognize The Human Race As One Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:31:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Attention:​Venue Change for Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes on September 19th Wed, 19 Sep 2012 12:12:52 +0000 Community Update
Washington DC, DC: The Senate Judiciary Hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Extremism is today,  Wednesday, September 19th at 2:30 pm (Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216 – Please note the location change). 

Even though the hearing is today, there are still many ways that your organization can show its support as well as resources to assist you.

1.       Attend the hearing and post-hearing press conference:  We need to pack the hearing room to emphasize the importance of these issues to all communities.  Also, a press conference will be held at approximately 4:30pm (immediately after the hearing) outside of the hearing room featuring allies supporting the hearing.  Please attend and encourage colleagues, local affiliates, and constituents to attend!  If you plan to attend, please fill out this RSVP form created by the Sikh Coalition so that we can get a sense of the number of people attending and the necessary space required.  If you cannot attend, you can also stream it here.

2.       Issue a press release or write an op-ed.  Press releases are of the utmost importance in order to spread the word regarding this hearing nationally and should be issued the Wednesday morning (tomorrow).  Additionally, op-eds are extremely helpful in making the public aware of the hearing and the importance of this hearing to your communities.  We encourage organizations to submit op-eds of no longer than 700 words to online media in order to have them published in a timely fashion.

  3.       Tweet during the hearing:  The hashtag is #antihate if you or your organization wishes to tweet.  Please tweet frequently!

4.       Submit an organizational statement for the record:  The record remains open for a week after the hearing and organizations can still submit statements of the record until that time (though they will not be referenced during Wednesday’s hearing).   (Note:  Please see below for information from the ACLU on messaging regarding “domestic extremism.”) . All statements must be emailed to Stephanie Trifone at by Wednesday, September 26th at 5 p.m. EDT / 4 p.m. CDT / 3 p.m. PDT.  Feel free to bcc and  when submitting your statement.

*Message from the ACLU:  Though the title of the hearing includes the phrase “domestic extremism,” there are concerns regarding this phrase and the fundamental First Amendment issues it raises. Primarily, the concern is that using the language “domestic extremism” rather than “violent extremists” puts the focus on ideas the government considers extreme, rather than illegal action taken by individuals.   The ACLU and other First Amendment advocacy groups worked with the Homeland Security Committees back in 2007 when “domestic radicalization” was their preferred euphemism and persuaded them to instead use “violent extremism,” which has become the common phraseology.  While this was not the preferred outcome (the preference was “violent extremists” because the “ism” still suggests a focus on ideology rather than action), it was successful in that the government acknowledged that the focus should be on violence rather than ideas.  The government has used the radicalization theory and the pursuit of “extremism” as a justification for investigating and monitoring both religious communities and political activists.  Peaceful advocacy organizations of all types have been subjected to the same sorts of over-aggressive enforcement tactics (ubiquitous surveillance, aggressive informants, sting operations, etc.) as have minority religious communities, and there is a risk of alienating them based on the inadvertent suggestion that the government can target them for their ideas and activism.  The ACLU urges the use of the term “violent extremist” so that law enforcement focuses on violent actions and the people who commit them, rather than ideas that the government may consider outside of the norm.  In formulating your testimony and statements for the record, please consider your use of language and messaging for your statement of the record.  For more information, please contact Mike German at or Devon Chaffee at


As I sat at the Milwaukee Airport on August 19th, it felt like I was leaving my home. The Sikh community that I had met only a few days back had welcomed me into their hearts and homes, turning this complete stranger into a family member. It has taken me three days to be able to finally pen down my experiences. Not because I was unwilling to write; it was because the immensity of the emotions and personal loss made the act of writing so trivial.

What I will describe in these series of blogs will be stories of my personal journey with the members of the families that lost their loved ones and the incredible support from the Wisconsin Sikh community surrounding them. I hope that as you read these passages, you will begin to understand the deep personal pain felt by everyone following the senseless killing in Wisconsin. I also hope that these blogs will give you an insight into the tremendous resiliency, forgiveness and humility present within the Sikh community.

I pray that you may have true peace and that God’s graces never cease; I pray your heart’s contentment too, may fill the years ahead of you.”

This heart wrenching message, from the sons to their mother, brought tears to my eyes as I read it. The sons, 20-year old Kamaljit Singh Saini and 18-year old Harpreet Singh Saini have placed this message on a plaque, placed on a memorial, at the site where their mother was killed. Paramjit Kaur Saini was the only woman killed in the senseless shooting on August 5th, at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Everyone describes Paramjit Kaur as a sweet, devout woman who came to the Gurdwara everyday to pray and help in the preparation of the Langar. She was sitting and praying in the Gurdwara the fatal day of the shooting. The site where she was shot now has a memorial with a large vase of flowers that get replaced diligently by the sons. “We both miss our mom a lot, it is strange not having her home when I come back from work” said Kamaljit Singh who works in addition to being a student at the local University. Even at this young of an age, I could see that he was mature beyond his years. As we talked, I learned how he had been supporting the family along with his mother and now has made Harpreet’s recovery his priority. Harpreet will be joining his older brother at the University in a few weeks and the two plan to live together.

As a mother of three, my heart cried as I began to understand the extent of all that has been lost. Sitting at the place where a mother was snatched from her sons, I prayed to Waheguru, to continue to bless these incredible boys with resilience and courage, as they embark on this new journey together.

-Dr. Seema Kaur, Regional Director, UNITED SIKHS