Oak Creek shooting: Sikh motorcyclist to ride against hate
An Indian-American Sikh is undertaking a 2,700-mile motorcycle ride to mark the 11th anniversary of a 2012 attack on a Gurdwara in Wisconsin that left seven people from his community dead.
New York: An Indian-American Sikh is undertaking a 2,700-mile motorcycle ride to mark the 11th anniversary of a 2012 attack on a Gurdwara in Wisconsin that left seven people from his community dead.
Gurdeep Singh Saggu, 37, along with Motorcycle Club USA, has planned the week-long ride to Oak Creek Gurdwara to raise awareness about their culture and faith, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The ride that would end on August 5 in Oak Creek, will pass through states like Arizona, where a Sikh man, mistaken for a Muslim, was killed in a hate crime four days after 9/11.
Earlier, Saggu, who is a supervisor at a shipping company, hesitated to leave his family for the fear that they could be attacked for their religion.
He had dealt with a co-worker in the past who accused him of belonging to a terrorist group due to his beard and turban, The Los Angeles Times reported.
His ten year-old son Akaaldeep, who was bullied at school because of his turban and came home crying every day, begged him to stay home.
But after Akaaldeep heard an FBI agent at Stockton Sikh Temple prayer hall recount how a white man strode into a Sikh temple shooting innocent people, he hugged his father, saying, “Daddy, now I want you to go.”
Hugging his son in the prayer hall, Saggu then told himself: “I have to do this,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
On August 5, 2012, the Sikh community of Oak Creek came under attack when white supremacist Wade Page stormed a Gurdwara in Wisconsin and gunned down six worshippers, before shooting himself dead.
A seventh person who was severely paralysed died from his injuries in 2020.
There are more than 100,000 Punjabis living in California and as many as 500,000 nationwide, the report said.
Sikhs have long been victims of hate and racial crimes in the US, and things took a turn for worse after September 11 attacks when they were mistaken for Muslims due to their long beards.
Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49 year-old Sikh businessman was the first victim of a hate crime linked to 9/11.
According to recent statistics revealed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a total of 1,005 hate crimes related to religion were reported in 2021 in the US with Sikhs being the most targeted religious groups.
The largest categories of religion-based crime included anti-Jewish incidents at 31.9 per cent followed by anti-Sikh incidents at 21.3 per cent, the FBI revealed.