HomeCommunityFifth Anniversary of Oak Creek Massacre Remembered

Fifth Anniversary of Oak Creek Massacre Remembered

Sikh Temple Shooting at Oak Creek, WI

By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent

Pardeep Kaleka is looking towards tomorrow’s commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the Oak Creek Massacre at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin with both “relentless optimism” and understandably, a “bit of somberness.”

The youth who will receive scholarships give him hope for the future, but memories of his father being shot five times will always be with him.

Satwant Singh Kaleka was one of six people shot and killed by White supremacist Michael Page on August 5, 2012 before he fatally shot himself in the head.

The tragedy could have been much worse was it not for Satwant’s heroism. Witnesses say the founder and president of the temple or gurdwara ran around warning people and advising them to run and hide. One young girl told Pardep his father even paused to say a brief prayer.

Among those he saved was his wife Satpal who hid in the kitchen pantry with 14 others.

When Page had emptied his semi-automatic pistol of bullets, Satwant tried to attack him with a butter knife. He was killed when Page was able to reload his gun and resume firing.

Five years later, the feelings of sadness are still strong for Pardep.

“We have a lot of healing to do, but we also have a lot of work. I hope the six souls we lost are a catalyst for a more inclusive society,” he told AsAmNews.

South Asian Americans Leading Together has documented 135 incidents of hate in the U.S. against Sikhs, Muslims, Indian Americans and Arabs since the election of President Trump. That doesn’t include a Sikh man found dead in a canal in Fresno just last week. Another man was shot dead outside a gas station in Elk Grove near the California capital of Sacramento. While it is unclear whether either death is racially motivated, it would not surprise Vivek Trivedi of SAALT.

“The climate is worse now than it was five years ago,” Trivedi told AsAmNews. “The nation has become more divided with a politics of finger pointing, a politics of fear, and a politics of hate continuing to condone and compel racism and exclusion.

“Sikh Americans, South Asians, and Muslims are being attacked because they are perceived to be Muslims and threats. We’re working together as a complete community.”

SAALT will be bringing messages of support and solidarity to tomorrow’s commemoration ceremony. Some of those messages will come from the larger Asian American Pacific Islander community.

“We’ve certainly received support from the AAPI community and organizations. We’re all working for a country that values immigrants. We all know are differences make us stronger.”

Oak Creek Massacre Victims
The Victims of the Oak Creek Massacre: Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, Paramjit Kaur, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Prakash Singh and Suveg Singh Khattra

Besides Kaleka, the other five from the Temple killed were Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, Paramjit Kaur, Prakash Singh and Suveg Singh Khattra.
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