California Reps Condemn Gurdwara Shooting

SALDEF executive director Jasjit Singh and Floyd Mori from the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies
SALDEF executive director Jasjit Singh and Floyd Mori from the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies pose for a photo during a shared community meal, or langar, on Capitol Hill. | Photo:Les Talusan/SALDEF.

Several California representatives have cosponsored a resolution condemning the fatal shooting of six Sikh Americans at a Wisconsin gurdwara that occurred two years ago today.

The resolution was announced last week at an event organized by Sikh American Legal Defense Fund. The gathering was a langar, which SALDEF described as an "anti-segregation movement" and a 500-year-old tradition to promote equality. Everyone is welcome, and vegetarian food is served to the community.

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"Langar is a time when all people can sit together and eat as equals -- regardless of their differences. Its tradition upholds the ideals of sharing, community, and inclusiveness," said Rep. Judy Chu of the San Gabriel Valley. "That the horrific shooting in Oak Creek two years ago occurred while the community was preparing meals for langar demonstrates the ignorance and blind hatred of the gunman -- and we must vow to never let this nation forget what happened."

Although no Sikh Americans currently serve in Congress, the resolution comes a year after the creation of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, in which California reps make up more than half of the membership. Its formation was announced by Chu and Representative David Valadao, whose Central Valley district is home to one of the largest Sikh populations in the country.

The resolution also serves as a way to stand against racial, religious discrimination, and violence, explained Navdeep Singh, SALDEF's policy director.

"It is our hope that every member and the public will join stand with these representatives, the people of Oak Creek, and the Sikh American community by using this anniversary to reflect on how to create positive change in their communities," said Singh.

Members of SALDEF
Members of SALDEF serve vegetarian meals during Langar on the Hill. | Photo:Les Talusan/SALDEF.

Last year, SALDEF partnered with Stanford University researchers in "Turban Myths," one of the first national studies that revealed the public's perception of Sikh Americans. 70 percent of Americans in the study could not identify a Sikh man in a turban, and one out of five Americans had fear if they were to encounter a stranger in a turban and beard.

SALDEF partnered with Comcast in July to broadcast the first Sikh American PSA featuring Sikh American designer and GAP model Waris Singh Ahluwalia to demonstrate the shared values of being an American.

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