Sympathy and advice from another city shaken by hate

SOURCE: The Post & Courier
POSTED: Jun 24 2015 12:01 am

As the mayor of the City of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a city that suffered through an act of hate in a Sikh house of worship in 2012, news of the shooting in a historic African American church in Charleston has broken my heart.

My city grieves with the victims’ families. Once again, the peace and safety of a place of worship has been violated in the most hateful way.

I will never forget August 5, 2012, the day a white supremacist opened fire, killing six of our community members. For months, I witnessed and shared the pain of the Sikh community and the broader city. Three years later, our pain and sadness continues, but I have witnessed how acts of solidarity can help us heal and rebuild in the face of such pain.

In the wake of the murder of nine people in Emanuel AME Church, I believe communities across America must come together in grief and solidarity. We must work with city leaders to demonstrate that a single act of hate can’t define a community or our nation. Only then can we honor the lives of the people who died and build new bridges necessary for understanding, healing, and hope. The unspeakable loss of life in Charleston should serve as a call to action for our nation.

Despite the best efforts of many of us, racism remains an insidious challenge for our country. It nourishes these horrific acts of violence, challenging the popular notion that America is a welcoming melting pot.

In Oak Creek, the gunman saw the turbans and brown skin of our Sikh neighbors as foreign and threatening. His act of violence became the most high profile hate crime in a series that the Sikh American community has endured since 9/11.

For African Americans, the Charleston shooting is the latest chapter in a long and painful national story of persecution and violence… READ FULL STORY