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Wisconsin Victim’s Sons Want to Become Police Officer

By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Monday, October 01, 2012 | 10:12 pm

It was not the American dream of Prakash Singh, (who had only been reunited with his family for a few precious weeks after 6 years apart. When he heard gunshots that morning, he told his two children to hide in the basement. He saved their lives. When it was over, his children) whose children found him lying in a pool of blood that morning. They shook his body and cried: “Papa! Get up!” But he was gone.

It was not the American dream of Suvegh Singh Khattra, a retired farmer who came here to be with his family. His family found him face down, a bullet in his head, his turban thrown to the side.

It was not the American dream of Satwant Singh Kaleka, president of the gurdwara who was killed while bravely fighting the gunman.

It was not the American dream of Sita Singh and Ranjit Singh, two brothers who sang prayers for our community. After 16 years apart, their family (wives and children) came to America for the first time for their funerals.

And, it was not the American dream of Santokh Singh or Punjab Singh who were injured in the massacre. Punjab Singh’s sons are by his side but he may never fully recover from his multiple gunshot wounds.

We ache for our loved ones. We have lost so much. But I want people to know that our heads are held high.

My mother was a devout Sikh. Like all Sikhs, she was bound to live in Chardi Kala – a state of high spirits and optimism. Like her, my brother and I are working every day to be in a state of high spirits and optimism.

We also know that we are not alone. Many people sent us letters, attended vigils, and gave us their support – Oak Creek’s mayor and police chief, Wisconsin’s governor, the president and the first lady. It is their support that gives me the strength to come here today.

Senators, I came here today to ask the government to give my mother the dignity of being a statistic. The FBI does not track hate crimes against Sikhs. My mother and those shot that day will not even count on a federal form. We cannot solve a problem we refuse to recognize.

Senators, I also ask that the government pursue domestic terrorists with the same vigor as attackers from abroad. The man who killed my mother was on the watch lists of public interest groups. I believe the government could have tracked him long before he killed my mother.

Finally, senators, I ask that you stand up for us. As lawmakers and leaders, you have the power to shape public opinion. Your words carry weight. When others scapegoat or demean people because of who they are, use your power to say that is wrong.

So many people have asked Sikhs to simply blame Muslims for attacks against our community or just say, “We are not Muslim.” But we won’t blame anyone else. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

I also want to be a part of the solution. That’s why I want to be a law enforcement officer like Lt. Brian Murphy, who saved so many lives that day. I want to protect other people from what happened to my mother. I want to combat hate – not just against Sikhs but against all people. Senators, I know what happened at Oak Creek was not an isolated incident. I fear it may happen again if we don’t stand up and do something.

I don’t want anyone to suffer what we have suffered. I want to build a world where all people can live, work, and worship in America in peace.

Because you see, despite everything, I still believe in the American dream. In my mother’s memory, I ask that you stand up for that dream with me, today and in the days to come.

Thank you for considering my testimony.




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