Wisconsin – UNITED SIKHS Blog https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog Recognize The Human Race As One Fri, 01 Sep 2017 23:45:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Attention:​Venue Change for Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes on September 19th https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/09/attention%e2%80%8bvenue-change-for-senate-hearing-on-hate-crimes-on-september-19th/ Wed, 19 Sep 2012 12:12:52 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1655 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 stephanie_trifone@judiciary-dem.senate.gov by Wednesday, September 26th at 5 p.m. EDT / 4 p.m. CDT / 3 p.m. PDT.  Feel free to bcc law-usa@unitedsikhs.org and info@saalt.org  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 mgerman@dcaclu.org or Devon Chaffee at dchaffee@dcaclu.org.

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CHARDI KALA: DISPATCHES FROM WISCONSIN – “Glowing Legacy” https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/08/chardi-kala-dispatches-from-wisconsin-glowing-legacy/ Thu, 23 Aug 2012 18:13:18 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1533 “A GLOWING LEGACY”

“Babaji, wake up and open your eyes. Look, Dr. Sidhu has come over to visit you all the way from California. The entire sangat is waiting anxiously to hear a Katha from you.”

Raghuvinder Singh, Babaji Punjab Singh’s son, uttered these words as he held his hand. Babaji Punjab Singh, is a Katha-wachak and was present at the Wisconsin Gurdwara in that capacity when he was shot in the head. He remains in critical condition. 

My first interaction with both the sons, Raghuvinder Singh and Jaspreet Singh, had been over a phone call from California. I had helped interpret during a medical team meeting. Now, as I held Babaji’ hand, I could feel the love from everyone surrounding him.

As he massaged his father’s legs, Raghuvinder started telling me about the glowing legacy Babaji had created with his work. “Babaji always knew that spreading Waheguru’s message through Katha, was his calling. He took an early retirement from the Indian army so he could devote all to this work…. and he never looked back. He was a very patient and caring father and grandfather. My daughter misses him dearly and wants to be here with him.”

With Shabad playing in the background, I learned about the love and wisdom exuding from Babaji. He not only preached about living a good life, but he also made sure to incorporate healthy habits in his life as well. Babaji made his own meals, which mostly comprised of steamed vegetables and whole grain meals. He would get up early in the morning and walk eight miles. Raghuvinder smiles softly as he says, “ we were younger but we both had difficulty keeping pace with him. His face always exuded a glow.”

Upon being notified of the shooting, the sons immediately travelled to the United States to be by their fathers sideand to give him strength. Their mother, Mataji Kulwant Kaur, was unable to travel immediately because of her health. The UNITED SIKHS team in India met with her and gave her a cheque of Rs 50,000. Additionally, UNITED SIKHS representatives called upon the US ambassador in India to expedite the processing of her visa application. She arrived the day of my visit.

Mataji reminded me of my grandmother, as she sat on the ground with me talking about Babaji. “He called me the night before, I asked him to come back because my health was failing. He reminded me of his life’s purpose and promised he would be back when he was done with his work here. He told me to stay strong and take care of the family, especially making sure my pregnant daughter-in-law gets healthy food on time and is well taken care of. It was almost as if he was giving me instructions.”
As I hugged Mataji, I looked up at the sons who were looking tenderly at their mother. I felt peace in my heart, feeling the love, caring, and strength within the family. I ask all of you to keep this and all the families in your thoughts and prayers. May Waheguru bless everyone with peace and love.

– Dr. Seema Kaur, Regional Director, UNITED SIKHS

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CHARDI KALA: UNITED SIKHS TEAM DISPATCHES FROM WISCONSIN https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/08/chardi-kala-united-sikhs-team-dispatches-from-wisconsin/ Wed, 22 Aug 2012 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1529  “INCREDIBLE RESILIENCE”

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.

“Mother
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

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Sikhs Killed in USA Terror Attack on Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship) https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/08/1465/ Sun, 05 Aug 2012 22:40:46 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1465 Sikhs Killed in USA Terror Attack on Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship)

Dr Harcharan Gill, who was at the scene said, “The police response was quick but the paramedic team waited for almost two hours to go inside the Gurdwara building,  sensing the possibility of of another shooter, which was not the case. The community is in deep shock, we never thought that this could have happened with us.”

HIGHLIGHTS
i) As of now, 6 Sikhs and the gunman have been confirmed dead with multiple wounded (at least 2 dozen).
UNITED SIKHS has executed the following actions:
(ii) Set up a Task Force to work with law enforcement agencies in the USA to ensure that the Sikh community is reassured of its safety
(iii)Extended our National Helpline at 1-855-US-UMEED for the Wisconsin Gurdwara incident victims
 (iv)Called on the Sikh community to be vigilant and to step up security without causing an alarm but by being on alert.
 (v)Called on the interfaith community to show solidarity by holding prayer vigils in places of worship
 (vi) Mobilized the UNITED SIKHS Emergency Response Team which is on its way to Wisconsin..
 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, 5th Aug 2012 – UNITED SIKHS strongly condemns the shooting of innocent Sikhs attending a morning prayer service today at a Gurdwara (place of worship) in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. This is very disturbing news for the entire Sikh American Community and the Sikh diaspora worldwide. The incident has been labeled as a well organized crime of terror. Reports suggest that the initial perpetrator was a heavy build, bald, white male who had two handguns and started shooting at the devotees indiscriminately in the Gurdwara parking lot as they were heading for the morning service.

The gunman also shot a police officer attending to the crime scene, multiple times. Reports also suggest of children and the head priest being held as hostage inside the temple premises. Multiple people have been shot and the number of fatalities as of now, including one gunman, are seven. There are reports of bodies lying in the temple parking lot.

We request community members to stay alert and inform law enforcement agencies and UNITED SIKHS about any suspicious activity. We are in constant touch with the White House, the DOJ, FBI and local law enforcement. We have received the following message from the White House:

“The President was alerted to the shooting incident in Wisconsin at 12:51PM Eastern and continues to be updated by federal law enforcement agencies.  We will keep you posted.”

As of now 6 Sikhs are confirmed dead:  1 Kathavachak (spiritual discourse giver), 2 sewadars (helpers) at the Gurdwara (place of worship), one woman, one old gentleman, and the  identity of another is unknown. The single gunman is also confirmed dead.

“This act of terror has left the community in shock and we are counting on law enforcement agencies to make a statement soon to reassure the community,” said Manwinder Singh, UNITED SIKHS community advocacy director.

We will keep you updated on the latest developments.  Let’s pray together for the innocent victims in this hour of crisis.

Issued by:
Jatinder Singh
Director
UNITED SIKHS
P: 1-510-421-0538 | 1-888-243-1690 | 1-646-688-3525
unitedsikhs-usa@unitedsikhs.org
http://unitedsikhs.org

To speak to a UNITED SIKHS representative directly, please visit http://unitedsikhs.org/contact.php  to find an office near you.

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