Updated 08/06/2012 11:06 PM
Members Of Local Sikh Community Mourn Lives Lost, Seek Answers
The shooting deaths in Wisconsin resonated loudly with members of the local Sikh community and prompted extra NYPD presence at their places of worship across the city on Monday. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
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A day after what Sikhs are calling the largest act of violence against them in the U.S., people arrived at a temple in South Richmond Hill, Queens on Monday to pray. They were greeted by police officers stationed outside.
"I feel so sad because the Sikh don't have any enemy," said one worshiper.
"I don't know what's going to happen next," said another worshiper.
They soon learned a member of their own community is mourning the loss of his 78-year-old uncle in the shooting in Oak Creek.
"I feel very bad because we'll never see him again," said Mohan Singh Khatra, a nephew of one of the shooting victims.
The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights group, says the metropolitan area has one of the largest concentrations of Sikhs in the country. On Monday, officers were guarding Sikh temples even though Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says that there is no known threat.
Kelly visited one such temple along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He says the shooting impacted the NYPD family as well.
"The lieutenant who was shot yesterday, he was shot nine times and is in critical condition, is the brother of Terry Murphy, who is a detective who just retired from the intelligence division of the New York City Police Department," Kelly said.
The FBI has yet to determine a motive for the shooting, which local police called an act of domestic terrorism.
"We will never give in to radical elements. That's the Sikh philosophy," said Gurdwara Sikh Temple Society Spokesman Harpreet Toor.
Members of the temple have been victims of hate crimes before. In 2004, a 54-year-old man was beaten unconscious by five men.
The Sikh Coalition says since 9/11 it has documented 10,000 hate crimes, incidents of bullying and bias and employment discrimination against Sikh people in the community and assume what happened in Oak Creek is a hate crime.
"We need to use this moment to look at why there is so much hate and discrimination and bias in this country," said Supreet Kaur of the Sikh Coalition.
The Sikh Coalition has sent three people to Oak Creek to offer support to the community, including financial assistance to the victims and their families.