In the aftermath of the tragic shootings of Surinder Singh and Gurmej Atwal, it has been very heartening to see the support offered from the greater community – nationally and locally – towards the Sikh community in the Sacramento area.
After Friday’s vigil at the scene of the attack (read more and see additional photos in the Elk Grove Citizen), the funeral for Surinder Singh was held last Saturday, in which over 500 people attended. Among those who attended to pay their respects were Floyd Mori, head of the Japanese Americans Citizens League, Irfan Haq, president of the Sacramento Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations, and Steve Detrick, Mayor of Elk Grove.
On Sunday, Detrick, along with other politicians and officials, visited the Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple in West Sacramento, where they expressed their solidarity with the Sikh community, including state Senator Derrell Steinberg:
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) plans to wear a turban on April 13 to express his support of the Sikh community in the wake of the March 4 shooting that killed an elderly Sikh man in Elk Grove.
Steinberg announced his call for other non-Sikh leaders and citizens to also share their support during a service attended by more than 100 Sikhs at the Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple in West Sacramento this morning.
It should be noted that April 13 is the date of Baisakhi, which is a significant celebration for Sikhs. It was on this day in 1699 that Sikhs formally took on their physical form that they are noted for today, including the turban, uncut hair, and other articles of faith.
On a personal note, several of my friends and colleagues have approached me to discuss this tragedy. They are all non-Sikhs who come from a variety of communities and each expressed their outrage, dismay and sympathies over the shootings. I’ve also received several requests for information about where to contribute to the reward for information (now at over $42,000) that leads to the arrest of the attacker(s). I’m aware of two ways that have been publically announced:
- Contact local attorney Amar Shergill: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Sacramento Sikh Temple is coordinating with Crime Alert Sacramento (part of the CrimeStoppers network). Individuals that wish to support the reward effort may do so by contributing to the Crime Alert Sacramento Hate Crime Fund. Contact Lynne Brown: email@example.com.
The murder of Surinder Singh and attack on Gurmej Atwal has shocked the Sikh community across the country, and indeed around the world. It reinforces a fear that many Sikhs have of the hostility they must face when they step outside their door, simply on the basis of their appearance. While we don’t know for certain that this crime was a hate crime, it is very consoling to know that the greater community stands by their Sikh neighbors. It’s a reminder – for both non-Sikhs and Sikhs – that we shouldn’t judge an entire group based on the actions of a few deviant individuals.