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Support for local Sikhs comes in many forms, from many places

Kansas City Sikhs bring money, goodwill for victims

Dr. Sethi signs the "Welcome Home Lt. Brian Murphy" banner that the Sikh Temple of Milwaukee will place in front of the temple along south Howell Avenue in Oak Creek as soon as the Oak Creek officer is able to leave the hospital.

Dr. Sethi signs the "Welcome Home Lt. Brian Murphy" banner that the Sikh Temple of Milwaukee will place in front of the temple along south Howell Avenue in Oak Creek as soon as the Oak Creek officer is able to leave the hospital. Photo By John O'Hara for CNI

Aug. 21, 2012

Oak Creek - Poster boards cover the walls of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. Messages such as "May the love and support of all peace-loving people sustain you in your time of dreadful trials" and "We hope you guys are happy and live a good life" fill these boards.

To the Kansas City, Kan., Sikh community, however, sending a note was not enough. When Kansas City residents heard that six people were killed Aug. 5 when Wade Michael Page opened fired in the Oak Creek temple, they began raising money - $12,000 to be exact.

Three leaders of the Kansas City Sikh Gurudwara presented the check in person Sunday.

Amardeep Kaleka - whose father, Satwant Kaleka, who was shot and killed at the temple - was among those who received them.

"It's amazing to think that they're driving all that far to be with us, and our love goes out to them," he said. "They have a lot of extended family here so it feels like the American Sikhs are coming closer as one family. It's a great show of respect and honor, and we thank them."

Three members of the Kansas City Sikh Gurudwara left Saturday to make the eight-hour drive. They left for Kansas City the following day, after presenting a poster board of support and the check.

Most of the money - $10,000 - will go to the victims and their families, $1,000 will go to the Sikh Temple and $1,000 will go to the Lt. Brian Murphy Fund.

Murphy is an Oak Creek police officer, and was shot multiple times while responding to the Sikh temple shooting.

Connecting families

Monetary donations and volunteer work haven't been the only source of support for the Oak Creek Sikh community. The federal government provided temporary visas to the family members of the victims.

"We are very grateful because no visa was denied," said Surinder Datg Singh Brea, a member of the temple.

Moving forward

Harvander Singh Tiwand of Kansas City said: "It's a shame that it happened. It was like in the Denver movie theater. The Kansas City people feel that it's not attacks on the Sikhs, it's attacks on Americans."

There is only one website established and run by the families of the victims, which can be found by going to WeAreSikhs.com. There is a donation portal and background information on Sikhism on the site, as well as pictures of the victims.

"There's a lot to add, but I think the discussion has just begun. Whether it be immigration or second-class citizenry or hate crimes or violence. Crime in America has reached epic proportions and we need to stop it," Kaleka said.

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