CAPAC Reacts to Shooting at Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin

Aug 6, 2012

Washington, DC – Yesterday, a shooting occurred at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, that left seven dead and others wounded.  Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements in reaction to this tragic event:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair:  “I am shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence that targeted the Sikh American community of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in their own house of worship. My thoughts are with the victims and their families as we try to understand what led to this tragedy. I have worked closely with the Sikh American community for decades and know of their tremendous contributions to our country. While the exact motivations of the shooter are still unknown, I hope that Americans of all faiths and backgrounds can come together to prevent incidents like this from ever happening again.”
 
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “Earlier today, gun tragedy struck our nation once again when a gunman opened fire at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims affected. No community should have to be faced with such terrible violence, especially one that takes place in a serene and peaceful place like a house of worship. I have been proud to closely work with the Sikh community through my career and am horrified that such senseless violence would fall at their doorstep. Yet, as we struggle to comprehend these tragic events, I know that it will be the strength and the character of the peace-loving Sikh community along with the selflessness of the larger American community that will guide us in these difficult times.”
 
Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui (CA-05): “I was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the families and the entire Sikh community. Just last year, two elderly men, both members of the Sacramento-area Sikh community, were murdered during an afternoon walk.  The perpetrator remains a mystery today, but the motivation behind the crime is all too familiar. These senseless acts of violence have no place in our society, and the fact that it may have been based on the victims’ religious faith is especially appalling. It is my sincere hope that we come together as a nation to support the Sikh community in this time of tragedy, and work to stamp out hate wherever it may appear.”

Congressman Howard L. Berman (CA-28): “I was horrified to learn of the hostage situation and shooting at the Sikh Gurudwara located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin yesterday morning.  The victims of the attack were merely gathering to worship this Sunday as many Americans do.  I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims and their loved ones."

Congressman Gerald E. “Gerry” Connolly (VA-11): “The violence against Sikh congregants this weekend in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was shocking and heartbreaking. This attack has sent shockwaves across the South Asian Diaspora. As the community, including those in Wisconsin, grieve, our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-7): “I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families and community of those injured and killed in today’s tragic shooting, and I join the people of Wisconsin and the entire Sikh-American community in mourning. There is no room in any society for such violence. While we do not yet know the motivations of this senseless act and it’s important to wait for more information from law enforcement, we do know that Sikh-Americans are too often the victims of intolerance and hate. Today we all grieve for those lost in this tragic event.”

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-4): "It is with great sadness that I extend my condolences and prayers to the families and friends of the victims of the shooting yesterday at the Sikh Temple of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Sikh-Americans across the country have my full support as we all grieve for those lost. I also wish to extend my prayers for a full recovery to the law enforcement officer who was wounded while courageously responding to this atrocity.  His heroic sacrifice is to be honored. Once again our nation has witnessed a mass murder by a madman with a gun in his hand.  It is time for a serious national dialogue and thoughtful action by Congress to keep guns out of the hands of people who would use them for violence.  If we do not act responsibly and with urgency, every community and every family will continue to be in danger of being randomly victimized in a theater, praying at a temple or church, or in a school – anywhere.  The madness of gun violence must stop.”

Congressman Charlie Rangel (NY-15): "I am shocked and deeply saddened as I join the nation in mourning the tragic shooting that wreaked havoc on the Sikh community of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. My thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and the families and friends who lost their loved ones. I pray that the wounded will be healed from the physical and psychological harm that was inflicted upon them. Targeting a religious group in their place of worship undermines the basic freedom and security of our country. This act of senseless terrorism, which comes just weeks after the tragic shooting massacre in Aurora, Colorado, calls for a national dialogue on stricter gun control in our communities to prevent dangerous individuals from acquiring automatic weapons in the first place. It is imperative that we put a stop to such tragedies from ever happening again."

Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-27): “I am deeply saddened by the events in Oak Creek, my thoughts and prayers are with the families, and I’m sure that’s true for everyone here. I condemn the senseless act of violence against the Sikh community in the strongest terms.  Sikhs are a very peaceful and tolerant community, but violence against Sikh-Americans has, sadly, risen dramatically since 9/11. I have always backed stronger U.S. government action to protect Sikhs and prosecute hate crimes. Less than a month after 9/11, I joined my colleagues in introducing a resolution to condemn bigotry and violence against Sikh-Americans in the wake of the terrorist attacks.  The community is highly susceptible to violence because of their appearance.  Most recently, in April of this year, I joined with my colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Justice urging the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to begin collecting data on hate crimes committed against Sikh-Americans. Today, I join with the entire nation in calling for the FBI to do a complete and thorough investigation of the tragic events in Wisconsin.”

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-12): “I am deeply saddened by the senseless act of violence at a guardwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin that took the lives of six Sikh-Americans and injured others in their house of worship. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this troubling time. This hate crime is an affront to the peaceful values of the Sikh community and to our American ideals of religious freedom and tolerance. I have worked with the community for many years to overcome bullying, discrimination, and racial profiling at our airports and will continue to do so. Today, I join with Americans of all faiths to grieve the lives lost in this tragedy.”

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-8):  "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families following the tragic shooting in Wisconsin.  It is even more troubling that this disturbing violence happened in a place of worship. The Sikh community is an important part of our nation, and we stand with them as we mourn and try to move forward during this difficult time."

Background

Yesterday’s shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, left at least seven dead, including the suspected gunman. The local police chief has reported that the authorities are treating the shooting as a "domestic terrorist-type incident."
 
Sikhism is the fifth biggest religion in the world with over 25 million followers and 500,000 followers in the United States. Sikh American advocacy groups have reported a sharp rise in bias based attacks after 9/11. The Associated Press reported that that more than 700 such incidents took place in the U.S. over the last decade, which many advocates believe are rooted in anti-Islamic sentiments. While Sikhism is distinct from Islam, Sikhs have long beards and turbans which can lead some to mistake them for Muslims.
 

 
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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.