Streams

Sikhs in NYC Vigilant in Aftermath of Wisconsin Temple Shooting

Monday, August 06, 2012

The shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin have caused New York City officials to beef up security at area Sikh temples. WNYC reporter Arun Venugopal examined the local Sikh community response to the shootings, as well as the extent to which such incidents fuel a need for Sikhs to assimilate. Listen to analysis above.

In the wake of the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left seven people dead, including the gunman, the NYPD is increasing its presence at Sikh temples in the area.

Members of the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond Hill, Queens, welcomed the increased NYPD presence, and said the violence against Sikhs reminded them of the post-9/11 discrimination they faced.

Harbans Singh Dhillion, 60, who emigrated from Punjab 32 years ago, clearly remembers when people yelled at him and called him Bin Laden and threw bottles at his car following the terrorist attacks. He was upset by the ignorance then, and now.

“A lot of people in the U.S. are uneducated and don’t know about Sikh religion. I have a very bad feeling when I heard the news,” he said.

Nearly everyone at the Sikh Cultural Center expressed shock and surprise at the killings in Wisconsin. Anshdeep Singh, who teaches martial arts at the center, said parents called him with concerns about sending their children to day camp Monday.

“Eight out of ten were telling me we don’t even feel safe in our gurdwara anymore,” Singh said.

Music played softly in the red carpeted temple, known as the gurdwara, while the hallways were lined with children’s drawings.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Monday sat down with leaders of the center, as well as the nephew of a man who was killed at the temple in suburban Milwaukee. Bloomberg said there was no indication that the city’s sizable Sikh community is being targeted, but he promised continued vigilance.

"No matter who you are, no matter where you're from, no matter what religion you profess, you have a right to be safe in your homes, in your places of worship, and on the streets of New York," Bloomberg said.

Sitting at the table with Bloomberg and Kelly was Mohan Singh Khatra. He lost an uncle, Subed Singh, in the temple attack. Khatra, wearing a dark blue turban, said he’d been planning a trip to Wisconsin to see his uncle and his family.

“Before this incident we are planning to go to Milwaukee for a wedding, but now, within 24-hours we’re going to Milwaukee for the funeral with our family,” he said. “I feel bad. We are all U.S. citizens."

He was grateful for the attention of the NYPD in Queens, and seemed optimistic that this was an isolated incident. “FBI, law enforcement are doing a great job investigating everything, that’s alright,” he said.

Members of the temple also noted that the last prayer of Sunday night was dedicated to the police officer who was shot outside the temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Lt. Brian Murphy, 51, remains in critical condition.

Police in Wisconsin said the shooter was identified as 40-year-old army veteran Wade Michael Page. He joined the Army in 1992 and was discharged six years later.

Colby Hamilton contributed reporting.

The gurdwara at the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond, Queens.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
The gurdwara at the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond, Queens.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg flanked by Sikh leaders at the Sikh Cultural Center in Queens, the day after a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Mayor Michael Bloomberg flanked by Sikh leaders at the Sikh Cultural Center in Queens, the day after a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
NYPD stationed outside the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond Hill Queens, following a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
NYPD stationed outside the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond Hill Queens, following a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
NYPD stationed outside the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond Hill Queens, following a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
NYPD stationed outside the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond Hill Queens, following a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
Prayers at the Sikh Cultural Center gurdwara in Richmond Hill, Queens.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Prayers at the Sikh Cultural Center gurdwara in Richmond Hill, Queens
The gurdwara at the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond Hill Queens.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
The gurdwara at the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond Hill Queens.

Tags:

More in:

The Morning Brief

Enter your email address and we’ll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Comments [2]

Chris from 2nd Amendment

Why was nobody, except the shooter, armed, in the Sikh temple near Milwaukee?

In 1998, 74% of the voting population in Wisconsin approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right of people "to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose."

On Nov. 1, 2011 Wisconsin's concealed_carry law went into effect. The licensing process is just beginning. It may have been too soon for many people to have obtained Wisconsin licenses, authorizing persons to carry concealed weapons, under this newly restored right to carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin.
In Florida, it took years, after right-to-carry laws were passed, to achieve gun licensing of 7% of its people. Violent crime there fell as more victims became armed.

Or, people of Milwaukee may feel it’s too much trouble to carry in a gun-unfriendly environment.
The head of Milwaukee’s police force — notorious anti_gunner Chief Ed Flynn said: “My message to my troops is, if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away, and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

Aug. 06 2012 09:19 PM
Lauren T from Brooklyn, NY

Dear WNYC,

When you say that Sikhs let their hair and beards grow and wear turbans, do you mean all Sikhs, or just the men? I'm being facetious; but please remember that "Sikhs" is not a gender-neutral term.

Aug. 06 2012 07:31 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Sponsored

Latest Newscast

 

 

Support

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public

Feeds

Supported by