WILMINGTON, Del. – The Senate on Thursday night passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) and four of his Senate colleagues to mark the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Additionally, heeding requests from Senator Coons and several other members of Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Friday that the Department of Justice would begin tracking hate crimes against Sikhs.
“A year ago, six innocent Americans lost their lives to senseless violence while attending Sunday morning services at their gurdwara,” Senator Coons said. “The tragic attack on this house of worship highlighted the challenges faced by the Sikh-American community and underscored the need for the FBI to track such attacks as ‘hate crimes,’ which I’m pleased it is now doing. This important decision will allow the identification of trends and help federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies properly allocate its resources to stop such crimes.”
According to the Sikh Coalition, more than 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States. The Justice Department, through the FBI, tracks crimes committed against Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, atheists, as well as those with “other religion” or “multiple religions,” but until recently, did not track crimes against Sikhs.
“Freedom of religion is at the very core of our nation’s values,” Senator Coons continued, “and the attack on the Oak Creek gurdwara was a reminder that Congress must continue to work to ensure the safety and religious freedom of all Americans. The Sikh tenets of peace, equality, and resilience through hardship have been on proud display through this difficult time, and I am pleased that the Senate unanimously adopted this resolution in recognition of that tenacity.”
Three days after the attack on the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Senator Coons attended a candlelight vigil at the Sikh Center of Delaware in New Castle. Click here for photos from the vigil.
The text of the resolution follows:
REMEMBERING THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE TRAGIC SHOOTING ON AUGUST 5, 2012, AT THE SIKH TEMPLE OF WISCONSIN IN OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN
Whereas, on Sunday, August 5, 2012, a shooting took place at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wisconsin;
Whereas 6 innocent people of the United States, including one woman and 5 men, lost their lives on that day in a senseless and violent act of hate at a house of worship;
Whereas 3 people sustained serious injuries, including Lieutenant Brian Murphy, the first responding officer;
Whereas many members of the Sikh community and the community as a whole selflessly sought to aid and protect others by putting their own safety at risk;
Whereas the heroic action of law enforcement officers such as Officer Sam Lenda prevented additional loss of life; and
Whereas the Sikh community has responded to the shooting in a peaceful manner consistent with the Sikh religious tenets of peace and equality: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) remembers the anniversary of the tragic shooting on August 5, 2012, at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wisconsin;
(2) condemns in the strongest possible terms that horrific shooting;
(3) condemns hatred and acts of violence towards racial and religious groups and calls for renewed efforts to end that violence;
(4) honors the memory of Suveg Singh Khattra, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, Paramjit Kaur, and Prakash Singh, who died in the shooting;
(5) offers heartfelt condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who died in the shooting;
(6) commends the heroism of first responders, and members of the community who courageously and selflessly placed their lives in danger to prevent the death of more innocent people; and
(7) stands with those who plan to gather in Oak Creek on August 2 through August 5, 2013, to memorialize the lives lost in the shooting and to continue healing as a community.