WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the seventh anniversary of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, gurdwara massacre of six innocent Sikh worshippers by a white supremacist, U.S. lawmakers have said the recent killing of more than 34 innocent civilians in El Paso,Texas, Dayton, Ohio and Gilroy, California, by a white supremacist and other domestic terrorists, prove that hardly any progress has been made in halting such hate-filled acts.
Rep. Judy Chu (D.-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), recalling that fateful day on August 5, 2012 in Oak Creek, said this act of domestic terrorism was committed by a "white supremacist who was driven by prejudice and bigotry.”
“Unfortunately, the shootings this past week in El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy are harrowing reminders of how little progress we have made in addressing domestic terrorism and gun violence since the Oak Creek shooting,” she said.
Chu said, "Though we cannot weed out hatred and racism overnight, we must continue to denounce racial and religious intolerance, especially when it comes from our nation's highest office,” and demanded that expeditious Congressional action was imperative to address gun violence “so that these tragedies do not continue to recur.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D.-N.Y.) remembering the six Sikh Americans who lost their lives seven years ago in the Oak Creek gurdwara shooting, said, “Sadly, as we just saw over the weekend, the racism and xenophobia that drove the attack on the gurdwara still permeates in our society today.”
Echoing the sentiments of Chu, Meng also called on the U.S. Senate to follow the House and immediately pass the Common Sense Gun Safety Legislation even as “on this anniversary, we must reaffirm our commitment to rejecting all forms of hate whenever and wherever it occurs.”
“We must come together to ensure that all Americans, regardless of their race, religion, or country of origin, feel safe in this country they call home," she said.
Indian American lawmakers, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D.-Wash.) and Ro Khanna (D.-Calif.) also lamented that seven years after the horrific killing of the six Sikh worshippers, such shootings continue unabated.
Jayapal said, “It has been seven years since the deadly attack at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and tragically, mass shootings like this one are on the rise across in the country.”
"We are seeing the real, devastating effects of a lack of sensible gun reform,” she said, and slammed President Donald Trump saying that his “dangerous racist and xenophobic rhetoric fans the flames of hate and violence against our communities, and Republicans remain unwilling to pass common sense gun-reform legislation.”
But Jayapal said that scores of her Democratic colleagues and the members of the Progressive Caucus that she co-chairs, “remain committed to addressing rising hate violence against Muslims, Sikhs and South Asian communities, and all immigrant communities of color,” while at the same time pushing for legislation to curb the plague of gun violence.
Khanna also remembering the anniversary of the killing of the Sikh worshippers by the hateful racist killer, said, “Seven years ago, six innocent Sikhs were murdered in their place of worship by an act of senseless violence.”
He asserted that “any attack on a community of faith must be wholly condemned,” and argued that “these moments transcend political boundaries and personal beliefs.”
Khanna pledged that “in honor of those who died at Oak Creek, as well as those who were brutally murdered in El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy over the last week, I will continue to advocate for stricter gun control laws and comprehensive background checks.”
Rep. Gil Cisneros, another California Democrat, said, “This tragic event is a reminder that the mission is to create a more just, understanding and welcoming world, is never over.”
He said, "Our country's strength is in the diversity of our people, including our Sikh, Muslim, South Asian, and Middle Eastern communities.”
Yet another Democrat from California, Terrence John Cox, vice chair of the Sikh American Congressional Caucus, urged all Americans to “stand united to help tackle this cycle of violence and call it for what it is domestic terrorism.”
He also sponsored a bipartisan resolution to recognize the contributions of Sikh Americans to the fabric of American society since their arrival in the U.S. in the late 1800s, observing that they are a community that “distinguish themselves by fostering respect among all people through faith and service,” even as they have faced discrimination in the U.S. and around the world.
Cox’s resolutions, noted that Sikh Americans, “pursue diverse professions that add to the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of the U.S., including service as members of the Armed Forces, and making significant contributions to our great nation in agriculture, information technology, small businesses, the hospitality industry, trucking, medicine, and technology.”
It said, “Sikh Americans, like Bhagat Singh Thind, served in the U.S. military during the World Wars and the first Asian American Congressman, Dalip Singh Saund, was a Sikh American elected to office in 1957.”
Cox said, "I'm proud to have introduced the first ever resolution in the United States House of Representatives honoring the significant contributions Sikh Americans have made to our country and American culture,” and reiterated, “Today, the influence of Sikh Americans is reflected in every facet of American life, including the Central Valley's agriculture industry.”
The resolution was introduced on the urging of The Sikh Coalition, a Sikh American advocacy organization, which said that it was a manifestation of “a
key part” of its “ongoing efforts to engage elected officials.”
"Raising awareness on the contributions of Sikh Americans as well as the cultural and historical significance of our religion is a critical component in the larger fight to ensure our civil rights are protected and respected,” it said.
Another major Sikh American advocacy and civil rights organization, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund(SALDEF), lauded Cox for the resolution, saying, "We sincerely appreciate Congressman Cox's efforts in recognizing the Sikh American community and its contributions to this great nation.”
SALDEF also pointed out that the first-ever Sikh American public service announcement had aired again this year, for the sixth consecutive year.
It said that throughout June, Comcast aired the PSA 98,509 times, committing $1.08 million to sharing this message that conveys Sikh values, and Sikh American lives played on national airwaves.
The PSA features Sikh American actor and designer, Waris Singh Ahluwalia, and incorporates pictures and videos from other Sikh Americans across the country, to increase awareness of, and illustrate how Sikh Americans are a vibrant part of the country.
According to SALDEF, “One of our key strategic priorities is to increase the awareness and media presence of Sikh Americans.To that end, SALDEF and Comcast partnered to produce the PSA, which first debuted on cable air in 2014, and has aired over 750,000 times, with donated airtime of over $8.4 million dollars.”
It added. “By conservative estimates, the PSA has been seen over 100 million times, and it is the most viewed piece on Sikh Americans ever.”