Mayor Scaffidi Releases Statement as Sikh Temple 2-Year Anniversary Approaches

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City Updates | General | Mayor & Council |

From the Office of the Mayor

As a newly-elected mayor, I was little prepared for any of the things that happened on or after August 5, 2012. But as that day unfolded, and as I met the grieving family members from the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and heard that one of our police officers, Lt. Brian Murphy, had been seriously wounded, I realized quickly that Oak Creek was no different than anywhere else. If it could happen here, in a community of 35,000 people, on a quiet Sunday morning in a house of worship, it could happen anywhere and to other groups, based solely on false perceptions, and a hesitancy, or worse an unwillingness, to engage people who look-and pray- differently.

I’ve said many times since then that the realities of that day, and the personal experiences that resulted from it, were life- changing. I've gotten to meet and share personal stories with people of different faiths and cultures, understanding that as much as we see and perceive differences, we have much  more in common. As early as the evening on Sunday, August 5, the phrase "do not let this tragic event define us" became my mission statement as a way of consciously moving Oak Creek away from being just one of those cities that has something bad happen to it; to a city known more for doing it right, and for its response to tragedy.

Each of the victims of the Sikh Temple Shooting have inspired me and the community in many ways since then. Whether it's the Serve2Unite campaign of Pardeep Kaleka, son of the slain Temple President Satwant Singh Kaleka, which educates young people on the importance of tolerance, diversity, and nonviolence. Or the creation of the Oak Creek Cares fund, which was created after the shooting to fund programs aimed at reducing violence and improve the safety and security of our neighborhoods. To the inspiring work of the Not in Our Town movement, which over the course of the year following the shooting, filmed our community response to August 5, 2012 in the documentary film "Waking in Oak Creek."    Each of these positive steps forward give me hope for the future, and encourages a dialogue beyond gun violence and hate crimes.

As we arrive at the two-year mark after the shootings, we will gather together once again to honor the victims, six brave souls who were doing nothing more than practicing their faith. We will run and walk together at the 2nd Annual Chardhi Kala 6K on Saturday, August 2, one kilometer for each life lost. On Sunday August 3, we'll gather at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin to worship together and celebrate and honor the victims. On Monday night August 4, our local public television station WMVS Channel 10 will broadcast the film "Waking in Oak Creek" and after the airing, Lt. Brian Murphy, Pardeep Kaleka, and myself will talk about the impact of the shooting, and what has happened in the two years since. Tuesday night, exactly two years after that horrific day, a quiet ceremony will be held at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, open to the public, for those who want to come together and share in the tremendous sense of community that has developed since August 5, 2012.

We will never forget the victims or the significance of the lives they led: Satwant Singh Kaleka (65), Paramjit Kaur (41), Sita Singh (41), Ranjit Singh (49), Prakash Singh (39), and Suveg Singh Khattra (84). My thoughts and prayers also go out to those who were injured in the attack.

Stephen Scaffidi
Mayor - City of Oak Creek