Elected Officials Denounce Shooting At Sikh Temple In Wisconsin
On August 7, Congressmember Joe Crowley, a leader on Sikh-American issues in the U.S. Congress, and city and state officials joined members of New York City’s Sikh community, including representatives of the Sikh Cultural Society and the Sikh Coalition, to denounce the tragic shooting on August 5 at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and to express solidarity with the Sikh community. Joining Crowley for the event were U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer; City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn; City Comptroller John C. Liu; Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; state Senators Michael Gianaris and José Peralta; Assemblymembers Rory Lancman, David Weprin, Grace Meng and Ed Braunstein; Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Mark Weprin; and representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Assemblymembers Aravella Simotas and Francisco Moya and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to the victims of this horrific attack, the people of Wisconsin, and the entire Sikh-American community. The Sikh-American community is a part of the fabric of our nation, especially here in Queens. We must take every step possible to ensure a crime like this never occurs again. We also can’t pretend that this is a one-time event. There has been a disturbing pattern of violence and hate against Sikh-Americans over the past year, and those of us standing here today are united in wanting to change this trajectory and make a change for the better. There is simply no room for hatred, intolerance or violence in this or any other community in America,” said Crowley.
While motivations of the shooter in Wisconsin are still unknown, Sikh-Americans are often the target of crimes because of their distinct identity and common misperceptions with respect to their attire and appearance. Attackers often appear to erroneously believe that Sikh-Americans are affiliated with extremists and were somehow responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. During the past year, Sikh-Americans and their religious institutions have been threatened or attacked in highly-publicized incidents in New York, Michigan, Virginia and California. In April, Crowley filed a letter signed by 93 members of Congress urging the FBI to document and quantify the commission of hate crimes against Sikh-Americans.
Gianaris said, “The Sikh community is an important and beloved part of our diverse society, and I join my colleagues and members of the Queens community in condemning the hateful acts that occurred in Wisconsin. Such deplorable actions are not representative of the feelings of our community. My condolences go out to the families and friends of those lost during Sunday’s attack.”
Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world with more than 25 million followers and 500,000 followers in the United States alone.
“Our Sikh friends and neighbors deserve to know that their government—at the city, state and federal level—will do everything it can to protect them from discrimination, harassment and violence, and that’s what all of us here today pledge to do,” said Lancman.
New York City – Queens in particular – is home to a large and active Sikh-American community.
“I am proud to stand here today in solidarity with the Sikh community. It is important that we continue to advocate for tolerance in our communities and stand together against crimes motivated by hate,” said Weprin.
“My deepest condolences go out to the victims of this heinous attack and their loved ones,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “There is no room for this senseless act of violence, which took place at a house of worship. Nobody should have to pray in fear of terror. We stand with the Sikh community grieving in New York City and Wisconsin.”
“Today I stand with the Sikh community in Wisconsin and in Queens to express our sadness at the senseless loss of life as innocent people practiced their faith,” said Van Bramer in a statement. “Ours is a society that recognizes that diversity is a value in and of itself, and I am proud to represent many Sikhs whose love of peace is known worldwide. We resolve to increase understanding and oppose violence at every turn.”