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Sikh Temple of Wisconsin honors victims with 10-year remembrance vigil

Sikh vigil.jpg
Eddie Morales
/
WUWM
A large crowd waits to place candles near the front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek during the 10-year Remembrance Vigil.

On Friday, more than 100 people attended a 10-year remembrance vigil at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek.

It was August 5, 2012, when a white supremacist killed six people at the temple. A seventh person died in 2020.

The victim’s names are: Suveg Singh, Satwant Kaleka, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, Paramjit Kaur, Prakash Singh and Punjab Singh.

Family members of the victims, like Amaris Kaur, spoke during the three-hour event. Kaur is the granddaughter of Satwant Kaleka, one of the temple’s founders. Kaleka died at age 65, when Kaur was just six years old.

Her speech addressed the shooter, who died by suicide after being shot by police.

"You are not a monster, you were just in pain," Kaur said. "I wish somebody would have told you your anger was fueled with a gun instead. You are hurt, so you hurt people. For I am not your enemy, you are."

Kamal Saini’s mother, Paramjit Kaur, also died that day. He said the tragedy inspired him to make a difference in the community.

Kamal Saini.jpg
Eddie Morales
/
WUWM
Kamal Saini takes center stage during a vigil at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. Saini thanked Lieutenant Brian Murphy for helping him achieve his goal of joining law enforcement.

"Ten years ago, I said that I would set out to become a law enforcement officer. Ten years later, here we are, and that’s all thanks to Brian," Saini said.

He’s talking about Lieutenant Brian Murphy; the first responding officer when the shooter opened fire. Murphy was shot 15 times and survived the encounter. He had a message for the victims’ families.

"All of you who were just up here, your parents are more proud of you now than ever before," Murphy said.

Governor Tony Evers presented a proclamation to the Sikh and Oak Creek communities.

Evers lights candle.jpg
Eddie Morales
/
WUWM
Gov. Tony Evers passes the flame from his candle to the person behind him at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin's vigil.

"Only together, can we heal," Evers said. "Only together, can we prevent another senseless tragedy like this one from happening ever again."

Many non-Sikhs, like Teddy Templin, attended the vigil. Templin said he learned about Sikhism from his Sikh friends.

"They don't judge you for any of your beliefs or anything about you," he said. "They don't demand that you adhere to their values and their culture. They're just a very loving community."

The temple will host a community event on Saturday and a memorial tribute on Sunday.

Eddie Morales joined WUWM in 2022 as a reporter. Before working at WUWM, he was the North Shore communities reporter for the Now News Group and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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