OAK CREEK -- Crying out to Capitol Hill. Eight family members of victims from last month's Sikh Temple shooting are headed to Washington D.C for a special congressional hearing. The hearing is part of a nationwide effort and one local Sikh member spoke about his goal as he prepares to go before the Senate.
Kamal Saini said, “I’m a little nervous, but yeah we look forward to it.” Saini will make an emotional statement in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. “It’s very nice they are actually looking into it,” he added.
Wade Michael Page, the gunman who had ties to white supremacy groups, killed six people and wounded three in the Sikh Temple massacre on August 5th. Now a coalition of nearly 150 religious and civil rights organizations across the country requested a Senate hearing on hate crimes and the threat of domestic extremism.
Saini said, “They're standing shoulder to shoulder with us and it’s great to see all the support." He will talk about his mother Paramjit Kaur who was shot in the back moments after praying in the temple. Saini and his brother Harpreet who will also testify, plan to channel their pain into hope for others. “Pretty much put a shine to what my mom was about . We just expect people to realize what kind of impact it’s had on us and not just on us but families of other victims and the community, not just Sikh but Oak Creek and the nation overall,” said Saini.
The petition, requesting the Senate hearing also referred to ten Islamic institutions and Muslim communities in seven states-- which have experienced attacks including vandalism, arson and more. It also mentioned the Jewish and African American communities having experienced persistent bias attacks as well.
“Our main goal is to let them know this is not a Sikh tragedy it’s an American tragedy and for people to just realize that the hate crimes are going way beyond what they’re supposed to be at there shouldn’t be hate crimes at all,” added Saini.
They're hoping the hearing could possibly lead to more awareness and tougher laws dealing with hate crimes and hate groups. The coalition really wants to make sure what happened in Oak Creek never happens to anyone else. The hearing is being held Wednesday.