Waking in Oak Creek

Posted By on September 11, 2019


– Oak Creek 911,
where’s your emergency? – Yeah, I was just going to
Sikh temple, and I was in the parking lot, and I think someone was shooting
some guy with a turban. – He’s in a church with a gun? – Yeah, yeah,
’cause I can hear it in there. He’s in there shooting people. – A white supremacist,
fueled by hatred, walked into our local gurdwara
with a loaded gun. He killed my mother
while she prayed. He shot and killed five
more men. – I think this is an assault
on all of us. It’s an assault on anybody who’s a Milwaukeean,
a Wisconsinite, an American, a human being… [somber piano music] – Tonight we are celebrating
the lives of six victims who tragically lost their lives
on Sunday August 5, 2012. – I don’t know
anybody personally that goes to
the Sikh temple here, but it still hits close to home. He very well could have walked
into my church and done the same thing. – The whole point
of a candlelight vigil is that light embodies
the hope that we have amongst this darkness. So many people
were getting together blocks away
from where this happened, without any fear
and with so much love. It was tremendous. – Here in the Milwaukee area–
you never think that it would happen
in your own backyard, but then again, on Sunday,
you know, it did. And we go to a point
where it calls us to action. – In 28 years
of law enforcement, I have seen a lot of hate. I’ve seen a lot of revenge,
and I’ve seen a lot of anger. What I saw, particularly from
the Sikh community this week, was compassion, concern,
and support. – My dad… he was the first one
to help protect that temple. It was his. It was ours. He lost his life. [ambient electronic music] ♪ ♪ – We do come early to prepare
the food every Sunday. Usually talking about
family stuff, you know. – Me and my sister,
we went outside, and then all of a sudden,
a white man had come out, and he just started shooting
randomly. I just ran inside
as fast I could to tell everybody
before it was too late. – My husband was sitting,
having tea. Then he says, “Close the door.” And he was on the phone–911. Then he ran
to keeping everybody away. – Oak Creek 911,
where’s your emergency? – We were having a problem
here at our– [indistinct speaking
and shouting] – The guy–
would be firing. We need 911 quick! [recording crackles] – Then we went into this pantry. – 15, 15.
– 15, 15 people. – We tried to quiet inside,
you know? – 7512 Howell Avenue,
they’re shooting. – Okay, did anybody get hit?
Hello? [dial tone beeping] – Somebody called and said, “You know,
your dad’s been shot.” So I called his phone
and talked to somebody inside, and they said,
“Get here. Hurry up.” – As soon as that call came in, I knew I was going to be
the first one to arrive. – Squad, last I heard is
a balding male with glasses may have gone inside with a gun,
and there were shots fired. – Shooting! [indistinct] – I’ll get them there quick,
ma’am. Hold on. – We were hearing the pop-pop,
you know, the bullet shots. You know, we start praying. – Yes, we’ve got help
on the way, okay? – Okay, stay on with me.
Okay? Ma’am? – I saw two men
laying on the ground, one on top of the other. Uh, I need an ambulance. I do not see
a shooter anywhere… – 10-4. – And just as I had started
moving, I saw him. White T-shirt,
lots of ink on his arms, black tactical pants,
and a holster on his hip. We both shot–
probably at the same time. [gunshot] My shot missed, and he hit me
directly in the chin, which traveled down my throat
and ripped apart my larynx. I stood up, pointed my gun, and that’s when he shot
the tip of my thumb off. The gun came out of my hand. So I keep crawling, and that’s when he shot me
in the back of the head. I know I’ve been shot
a ton at this point, and then a funny thing happens. It just gets quiet, and I just thought,
“I got to fight.” – I got someone walking out
the driveway towards me. I drove up, I saw him, and I said something
just wasn’t right. That’s why I backed up
to access my rifle, and then I pulled back up. The glass sprayed me
in the face. With the front sight, followed
him and shot until he went down. – As the minutes went on, it just became
more and more urgent, and I just wanted to know what
happened to Dad. Is he all right? – I think I must have asked him
about 25 times. “Did you find my mother?” Do you know where she is?
Did you find her? – Receiving those text messages, you’re standing
on the sidewalk… You don’t know who’s alive
and who’s not, and all you can think about is,
you know, “Am I–am I going to see
my parents?” – I didn’t know
if I had hit him or if he had just dove
to get behind the cover. – Move it!
Move it! – Where’s Murphy?
We don’t know where Murphy is! – Any further description if there is
an additional shooter? – He just shot again. – He’s still shooting. I figured I’m going to
take the fight to him. If I run out of bullets,
I’m going to run him over, and I saw that he had
a head injury, but I didn’t know if I had
hit him in the head or not, The round that we had heard
was not fired at us. He actually put the gun
to his head. He didn’t want to be
taken alive. – We had a lot of information
pretty early on on who he was
and what he was all about. What he was wearing is indicative
of a white supremist to show, “I’m going to spill blood
for the cause.” Our role now is not only
to protect; it’s to make them feel safe and not just
in the Sikh community, but everywhere in my city. – The day after August 5th,
my brother came into my room, and I said, “Can we go after
the neo-Nazis guys “so that they don’t
ever think about doing something
like this again?” And my brother stopped me
and he goes, “Look, you don’t realize, like, we could either become weaker
or stronger.” If you retaliate,
you’re no better than them. – I used to cut my hair,
trim my beard, depending on what I felt like
each day. I’d always thought about
taking the saroop, as we call it,
of the Sikh faith, where you don’t cut your hair,
you keep your gaze Saundatti. I thought about it
and I was like, “You know, maybe someday.
I’m not spiritually ready.” And when the shooting happened, I felt like, if there’s a day,
it’s today. And I wanted to show the world
that even if we look different, we’re still Americans,
and we’re still human beings. You know, I’m not a terrorist. – I look at it that I confronted
evil in the parking lot. You know, he was looking
for division. It didn’t work that way. I think it grew people closer. – We’re trying to remember
what happened last Sunday. We’re trying to come together
as a community to reassure the families
and heal together I guess. – I’m affected
by any kind of tragedy, but there have been
several times where I just struggle to, like,
hold it together. It almost, like, shakes you
by the shoulders and say “You got to wake up. “You can’t allow these things
to happen. You can’t allow hate
to dominate a conversation.” Our thoughts and prayers go out
to the families of the victims, for our wounded officer. There is no doubt in my mind
that the heroic actions of our police officers prevented
an even greater tragedy. – Sita Singh, 41 years old, Ranjit Singh, 49 years old, Satwant Singh Kaleka,
62 years old. Prakash Singh, 39 years old. Paramjit Kaur, 41 years old, Suveg Singh Khattra,
84 years old. [poignant piano music] ♪ ♪ – These were people who were
walking alive just a week back. They are no more with us. We come together in love
and peace and understanding rather than, you know, hatred. – It could happen to anybody,
anyplace, anywhere. Hatred don’t care where it goes. What hurts them
also hurts us too. We are Christians. We all are brothers and sisters
together. That’s why we are here. We came to share
their grief too. – Sometimes people think that when you go into
a situation like this, it’s over; it’s done;
you go home. Let’s do your job.
You get back. It doesn’t work that way. There were some pretty graphic
things that went on there. They’re trained to see that, but now when one of their own
goes down– we need to heal behind
closed doors in a group and come together and talk
and cry. I would like to see them get some time
to catch their breath too. – She was a very
hardworking woman. – She sacrificed what she wanted
for herself to give us what we needed– just working for 12, 14 hours
a day just to put food on the table. – My dad was a strong, strong
person, a strong personality. He was going to fight
till the end, and sometimes it, you know,
rubbed people the wrong way, but he was also a very honest
person, almost brutally honest. A lot of integrity. You don’t know that
you have these characteristics built into you
until you need them. – How can we look into the eye
of a horrific tragedy? I seek solace in the fact that,
even in death, my father has done more
to promote awareness of the Sikh faith
than he did when he was alive. [percussive instrumental music] ♪ ♪ – How are you?
– Hi. – Good to see you. There is intelligence
that is shared amongst the law enforcement
community on what we can do now, who we’re looking at, but when
you’re looking at raw data– let’s pull the data out
of the FBI files– this will not show up. This is the hate crime
incident report, and you can see what the hate
was for. Because it’s their race,
their gender, their sexual orientation. And then religion,
we have Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Other Religion. So the Sikh community,
it’s not– there’s really nowhere for me
to put on here who they are. They’re “others.” – Where are our Sikhs? Where do we count our mother? What are they going to say? 7,000 “other” died? That was a wake-up call,
I believe, to all of us, where we needed to do something. – 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. 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. I want to tell the gunman
who took her away from me: “You may have been full of hate,
but my mother was full of love.” She was an American. Despite everything,
I still believe in America, American dream. – He became the first Sikh ever
to testify before Congress in U.S. history. You know, and how many people
can say that in the world? So it was definitely dear, close
to our heart. – It was just for my mom. – You know, there’s days
you’re sitting there, and it’s miserable. For me to get out of bed
and walk to the bathroom was a major event. You know, I remember
being in the hospital and members of the temple
brought up letters and cards, and that makes you get up
and move. The outpouring of gratitude
and every aspect of support, they’ve been there. My wife and I never really
went on a honeymoon. And we had tickets to go to the
Florida Keys in two weeks. There was actually one point
where I’m laying on my back– and he shot me
through the bicep, and I can just remember,
in slow motion, the blood sprayed out of my arm
and I can just remember thinking as I’m crawling backwards, “We’re not going to the Keys.” And I thought,
“She’s gonna be mad,” you know? I had been shot 15 times. I really can’t feel anything
in the forearm. I have half a thumb, some memory loss from the shot
in the back of the head. But things could be
so much worse. I’m very fortunate. Granted, I’m not thumb-wrestling
anybody or singing karaoke, but I can still do
my day-to-day functions. The Sikh Temple
is on Howell Avenue, one of the busiest thoroughfares
in Oak Creek, but how many people
ever truly understood what they stood for,
what they worshiped, what their lifestyle was like? [singing and instrumental music] – In our faith,
God is everywhere. Sikhism was founded a little over 500 years ago
in an area of India known as Punjab by who
we now call Guru Nanak. We primarily believe in one God and that all people
from all different faiths pray to the same God. Regardless of your caste, regardless of your gender
or where you are in life, you can find God
just as easily as anyone else. You simply work hard
and work honestly. You keep God in your mind, and you share what you have
with others. And our God
is defined essentially as the energy of the universe. [acoustic guitar music] ♪ ♪ As a scientist, we’re really
only trying to understand God in the same way that
any spiritual person tries to understand God– just using different tools. And I think the concept for me
at least spiritually now is trying to merge the two. Our lab in general
looks at learning and memory, and I do that looking at
how cells communicate amongst each other. These connections are the basis in how we are able to
think, learn, and remember. ♪ ♪ The a whole concept
ofsangat,or community, in our faith is that you
as an individual cannot find truth. We must learn together
to find that truth. So we’re always encouraged
to pray in groups, to meditate together,
to interact with each other, to eat together, to serve each other
in that hope. [children giggling] – You never get used to
coming into a scene where your dad
took his last breath, murmuring, [speaking foreign language] you know,
“Please come save me.” My mom used to be
really involved in the gurdwara
and helping out all the time. – Still it’s hard for me, starts shaking my heart
and everything. – It’s a hard obstacle
to try to get over. [somber piano music] ♪ ♪ – One of the things that was
most important, I believe, for the Sikh community to hear
was the clear articulation that this was, in fact,
a hate crime– not because
it lessened the pain, but just because it gave them
the ability to say,
“We are a part of America.” They are our doctors. They’re our nurses,
our teachers. They’re our masons. They’re our cab drivers.
They are us. There is no one
to prosecute here. There is no defendant
for us to indict, but that suggests that we have
a larger mission, and that is, in part, education. What do you take
from an experience like this? – This guy was inked up
to the max with neo-Nazi white supremacist
tattoos. Hate festers like a sore. It doesn’t happen overnight. I wonder how many people
ran into this guy and didn’t know
what he was about. As a law enforcement officer, you should know your community
inside and out. You should get to the places
that you don’t normally get to. It’s hard to say
to someone else, “Don’t be ignorant”
when you’re ignorant yourself. – You can’t go through this
and not be affected. There’s still emotion. It’s just–it’s not
the raw emotion of the incident. All of us, I think, sense
that there is a change here– from “It’s a bad thing
that happened. “Let’s move on,” to maybe we need to talk about
how we can reduce the likelihood that it will happen. I promised the Sikh community that we would continue
to have events based on what happened here. Can we do something
as a community to kind of change
the discussion? – I think most folks
in Oak Creek would say before this happened, I mean, we knew the temple
existed, but in terms of interacting
with the community and knowing what they’re about– knowing how
they lived their lives– was kind of a mystery. – Before this whole incident
occurred, I really had a negative outlook
on police officers, but we don’t have
those conversations to see they’re humans. – We have a ride along program. Come ride with me for a day. – I would love to do that, Sam. – You can come and ride.
– I will. – Every time I turn to speak to
a crowd, I take a deep breath, and I gather myself and I hope
that once we leave today that we will both
be messengers together to get out there and basically
preach the message of love. – I’ve seen a lot in 28 years
of how people hate each other and how they treat each other, but unfortunately
that’s where we are at. Someone is always
telling me their brother, their uncle, their sister… they’re worried that they may be
one of those people, and I look at them and say, “Well, then why didn’t you
say something?” – I was a founding member
of the same organization that Wade Page belonged to. So in many ways I set the stage
and I created the environment that he came from. The most frequently asked
question is “How did you change?” I was very fortunate
that kindness was given to me by complete strangers
who I was outright hostile to. And while these acts of kindness
didn’t change me on the spot, they planted seeds
that grew in my heart that left less and less room
for that hate and violence. – I think that the country has gotten too used to
stories like this. We don’t feel each other’s pain. Being awake
means that you feel it. You feel Newtown. You feel it so much that you
want to get in your car, drive to Connecticut,
and be with the victims. As you leave today, be awake. [applause] – I have
a six-year-old daughter, and I think about it every day. But I think we’re making
a difference, and for me, every day
is do the right thing, try to teach my children
to do the right thing. – I’m sick of being passive,
I guess, and today really helped out,
like, seeing that I’m not the only one
in the community who actually wants to help out. – I often say I have more faith
in the kids than I do in adults sometimes. It’s probably a naive statement
in some extent– but kids are really going
to drive this discussion. – Since that incident,
people have started to believe like, we actually had a problem, where people
didn’t understand fully about other people’s cultures,
or they didn’t respect it. – We don’t talk
to many neighbors, but they came over and,
you know, they asked how we’re all doing,
and it was just nice to see, like, even though what happened
was bad, like, there was such
a positive outcome. It brought
our whole neighborhood together, our schools together. [upbeat guitar music] ♪ ♪ – This is a small thing, but it
can set, like, a ripple effect. – It made everybody feel like
they were even, like, a tiny part
of something amazing. [geese honking] [acoustic guitar music] ♪ ♪ – I’m the commander
of Post 434 Squadron, and I’m a retired police officer
from the city of Oak Creek. As soon as this happened, members of the Post
all got together and said, “What can we do?” – Usually a Legion Post
takes care of its own members
and everything, but we wanted to make this
a community-wide effort. – We feel that heroes
from all walks of life should be honored,
not just military heroes. The way today’s society is, we don’t get to know enough
about each other. What those six people’s
deaths did was help us better understand
the Sikhs. They understand us better, and the two communities
are now much closer together. We’re not born heroes; we become heroes
because of something that happens in our life. – Around the community
this weekend, there are congregations who are
remembering those who perished. We’ve known what it is like
to be attacked, to feel the sting
of other people’s hatred. That should cause us to do
everything within our power to bring about a sense
of the good. – When we are doing things
in our world to make a difference, each community of faith
can only do so much, and that’s why God gave us
another community of faith and another faith tradition. We each have ways in which
we touch people’s lives. [singing and instrumental music] ♪ ♪ – How does a community
come together so quickly after something
so horrific? And you have to understand you’re the reason
that that happened, the compassion and the
forgiveness that you have. We want to remember the victims,
never ever forget them. But what we want to be
remembered for is the response and how we came together. – Last year, I was blessed by
God to be given an opportunity to serve the gurdwara,
and for that, I will always be thankful. Like the other six victims who
lost their voice permanently, and mine,
who has been diminished, that voice has been replaced
by everyone here– the voice ofChardhi Kala,the voice of going forward
and moving ahead. [call and response chanting] [bittersweet string music] ♪ ♪ – It’s very difficult obviously
to be up here and emcee when today was the day
that I found out my father was murdered. I was full of so much anger. If I do something constructive, if I try to help
build community, I don’t think
about the negative side. – As for Wade Michael Page, there is no question
that my father– and I’m pretty sure
the other victim’s families– they’ve forgiven him
and pray for his soul. – After they took my dad’s
coffin, I started crying. [sobbing] And I couldn’t stop. – Raise your candles for him.
Look out… – See.
See there. – Thank you.
Thanks for your love. [speaking foreign language] – It seems like every time
I get tired, somebody steps up
and uplifts me–us, all of us. – As much as you are angry, as much as you are going through
these feelings of grief, so was the rest
of this community, and the rest of the community
literally took their arms, braced them around you, and took that burden of pain
away. – Yes, it makes a difference. – We can laugh,
we can sing together, we can beat the drum together,
we can be with each other, and that creates this healing. – ♪ We need a little help ♪ ♪ We can’t do it alone ♪ – ♪ Can’t do it alone ♪ – ♪ We need a little help ♪ – Small towns, small cities
in America, we can accomplish things
that set examples. We can make a change
that’s real. – ♪ Wake up all the builders ♪ ♪ Time to build a new land ♪ [cheers and applause] – We had all kinds of people
come together today and walk and run, 6k, 1k
for each victim. –Chardhi Kalameans
relentless optimism. You need to have hope that
the moral arc of the universe bends to the good. – It represents a challenge. People get to a point where they
think that they can’t make it. They search inside and dig in
and basically keep going. – ♪ The only thing
we have to do ♪ ♪ Is put it in our minds ♪ ♪ Surely things will work out ♪ ♪ ‘Cause they do it
every time ♪ – ♪ The world
won’t get no better ♪ – ♪ If we just… ♪ – ♪ If we just ♪ – ♪ Let it be ♪ – ♪ Let it be, let it be,
let it be ♪ – ♪ The world
won’t get no better ♪ – Nice job, guys! – ♪ We got to change it, yeah ♪ ♪ Just you and me ♪ – ♪ World won’t get no better ♪ – ♪ If we just… ♪ – ♪ If we just ♪ – ♪ Let it be ♪ – ♪ Let it be, let it be,
let it be ♪ – ♪ The world
won’t get no better ♪ ♪ We got to change it, yeah ♪ ♪ Just you and me ♪ – ♪ We need a little help ♪ ♪ We can’t do it alone ♪ – ♪ Can’t do it alone ♪ – ♪ We need a little help ♪ – ♪ Can’t do it alone,
can’t do it alone ♪ – ♪ Need a little help,
can’t do it alone ♪

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