Indian American lawmaker Raja Krishnamoorthi wants April recognized as ‘Sikh appreciation and awareness month’.
A leading Indian American community organization is holding a virtual multiracial interfaith vigil at 8 pm ET Thursday to mourn the victims of Indianapolis shooting and stand in solidarity with the Sikh community.
“To our Sikh brothers and sisters, know that you are not alone. Long after the headlines change, our entire community will stand with you,” Neil Makhija, IMPACT Executive Director, stated.
IMPACT has also started a donation drive for the “families of those lost in this senseless tragedy — including four beloved members of the Sikh community,” who were among eight persons killed in last week’s shooting.
“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of Jasvinder Kaur, Amarjit Sekhon, Jaswinder Singh, Amarjeet Kaur Johal, Matthew Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Karli Smith, and John Weisert as they process this tragic loss,” Makhija wrote.
“We cannot ignore the decades of hatred and bias that led to the shooting at the FedEx facility in Indiana, where 90% of the workers are Sikh,” he wrote.
“For too long the Sikh community in particular has been a target of hate and discrimination. Now, simply acknowledging the pain of the community is not enough.”
Thoughts and prayers are not enough, Makhija wrote demanding “a full investigation to determine the role that hate, racism, and an indifference to Sikh lives played in this shooting.”
“We are also living in a time where hate against the AAPI community is on the rise, and mass shootings have become a daily occurrence in our nation,” Makhija noted.
IMPACT, he wrote “is committed to fighting to stop AAPI hate and put an end to the senseless gun violence plaguing our country.”
Makhija said IMPACT will “mobilize South Asian voters to elect leaders who represent our community and our ideals, and will fight tirelessly to keep our communities safe.”
Meanwhile, Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has entered a statement into the Congressional record to recognize April as ‘Sikh appreciation and awareness month’ in his home state of Illinois.
Underscoring the importance of the recognition, he noted there has been a disturbing rise in hate crimes and violent acts perpetrated against the Sikh-American community.
During this month of appreciation for Sikh-Americans, Krishnamoorthi said he wants to officially recognize the contributions of the more than 7,00,000 members of the US Sikh community to business, the arts, science, medicine, literature and philosophy.
“Additionally, I ask all Americans to take to heart the Sikh religion’s belief in the sanctity of each person, respect for freedom of religion, and creed that community service is the foundation for living a good life.”
The first followers of the Sikh religion emigrated to the United States over 125 years ago, where they found work on farms located in California and in the lumber mills of Washington state, Krishnamoorthi said.
Despite suffering persecution and discrimination, these patriotic Sikh-Americans persevered and found ways to participate in civic life, including service in the United States Army, he added.
Earlier, he called for a full investigation of potential anti-Sikh motivations in Indianapolis shooting.
“As our country seeks to understand this week’s senseless mass shooting in Indianapolis, both in itself and as part of the larger blight of gun violence, it’s also imperative that authorities fully investigate whether this attack may have been driven by anti-Sikh motivations.”
Krishnamoorthi noted that the US has “witnessed a recent wave of anti-Asian hate crimes during this pandemic after a broader increase in hate-motivated crimes and violence against a range of American communities over the last half decade.”
“Investigators must also determine if this mass shooting was a hate-motivated attack in addition to serving as another example of the plague of gun violence which has beset our nation,” he stated.