OAK CREEK -- Community members gathered Thursday night, August 9th to talk about the Sikh Temple shootings that killed six and critically wounded three. Thursday night's discussion was moderated by U.S. Attorney James Santelle, and Rev. Jesse Jackson attended, among other leaders.
Sikh community members say it hasn't been uncommon for them to experience discrimination on a smaller scale. Leaders, Sikh community members and members of the Oak Creek community at large discussed Thursday what can be done to stop future attacks and discrimination.
It is still unclear what motivated Sikh Temple shooter 40-year-old Wade Michael Page to step into the Sikh Temple during Sunday services and open fire. However, the investigation has uncovered Page had deep roots in the white supremacist movement. One professor who had communicated with page said he "hated all non-whites."
Those in attendance Thursday questioned how violence against Sikhs can be stopped. They say they've been victims of smaller attacks for years.
Reverend Jesse Jackson was on hand to provide support, as well as Representative Mark Honadel.
"I'm here to listen -- to learn what the Sikh community concerns are," Honadel said.
Balwant Singh Hansra says the Sikh faith values openness and that's why he says some temples are open 24 hours. Now, he questions whether more needs to be done to protect Sikhs and whether police need to be involved.
"This tragic thing is forcing us to re-evaluate. We don't want to change or sacrifice our principles, but we need to evaluate," Hansra said.
The meeting Thursday night was very peaceful. Often the Sikhs in the crowd would sing short verses in response to comments they liked.
Members of the panel didn't have the answers to every question, but the consensus among Sikhs seemed to be that they want more community-wide education about the Sikh customs and faith.
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