Yesterday, after a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US First Lady Michelle Obama met privately with the victims of the August 5 shooting at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Gurdwara shooting:
She spoke briefly with temple secretary Kulwant Dhaliwal and Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi, telling them, almost in a whisper, “It’s my honor to be here with you. I’m sorry it’s under these circumstances, but I am anxious to meet with the families and lend whatever support I can.”
From my distant perspective, I viewed this visit with some apprehension, however the victims and community were reportedly touched by her visit (and frankly, their response is the most important). However, a visit by the President and the Republican candidate for that office is a needed gesture.
Despite the fact that her visit came after some delay, it coincidentally came on the day that 19 US Senators sent a letter to the FBI requesting that the organization identifies hate crimes against Sikhs in their hate crimes database:
“Although the limited data available suggests that a disproportionately high rate of violence and other crimes are committed against Sikhs, it is difficult to understand the true scope of the problem because the Department of Justice does not specifically track hate crimes against Sikhs,” added the senators who noted that—because Sikh men often wear turbans and long beards—“Sikhs are particularly susceptible to violence committed because of their Sikh identity, even if the perpetrator does not understand that the victim is a Sikh.”
As discussed on this blog before, this identification currently does not occur. The letter from the Senators follows a similar request from over 90 US Representatives earlier this year.
Such attention to what happened to the Sikhs in Oak Creek will hopefully convince the FBI to pay more attention to the issue.