Another Sikh-American Shot Dead in Milwaukee, WisconsinSIMRAN JEET SINGH
Another Sikh has been murdered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
56-year old Dalbir Singh regularly attended the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, the same gurdwara where the gunman opened fire and killed six members of the congregation on August 5, 2012 - a mere ten days before this latest shooting.
The incident has NOT been reported in the mainstream media, even though two days have passed since the murder.
The Milwaukee Police Department says it has been treating the case as a robbery, and adds that it has not yet determined a motive, though it has taken people of interest in custody.
Furthermore, U.S. Attorney James Santelle "has assured the community that his office and law enforcement will look at this case critically and ensure that the motive of this crime is thoroughly investigated."
This latest murder comes in the wake of the recent massacre, and community members are openly wondering whether the murder of Dalbir Singh is connected to the earlier tragedy that took place in the same town just ten days prior. While the Sikhs of Milwaukee publicly expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support from around the world, the community does not seem entirely surprised. In fact, some individuals had privately reported that they had received additional threats.
For example, less than a week after the gurdwara shootings, a member of the Oak Creek Sikh community stopped his car at an intersection next to a pickup truck. The driver of the truck looked at the Sikh-American, manipulated his thumb and pointer-finger to make the shape of a gun, and pulled the trigger while mouthing the words "This isn't over yet."
[Neither of these two tragedies are "isolated" incidents. There were recent repoorts that a number of other incidents of violence have been taking place against Sikh-Americans in the area, well before the Oak Creek massacre.]
All of these facts, added to the trucker anecdote, raise questions about the toxicity of our society.
It also shows how much work we still have to do.
One of our key failures is our inability to identify the source of these problems. By framing the Oak Creek massacre as an isolated incident, we delude ourselves into thinking of it as a randomized event carried out by a troubled individual. However, if we place the gurdwara shooting within its broader context, we can clearly see that it fits a troubling pattern of hate and bigotry within this country.
But Sikh-Americans are not the only targets. The anti-Muslim vitriol in this country has reached an all-time high. Hateful Americans have attacked seven mosques over the past 11 days -- some razed a mosque in Joplin, others threw pig's feet at a mosque site in California, some shot paintballs at a mosque in Oklahoma City, and still others hurled a homemade chemical bomb at a mosque outside of Chicago.
Given the Islamophobic sentiment raging throughout modern America, we cannot afford to view the pattern of bigotry in this country as disparate, random acts. While the assailant's intent in murdering Dalbir Singh remains to be determined, the very fact that we are considering hate as a possible motive speaks volumes about the condition of our nation.
America is in trouble.
The nationwide desecration of mosques and the terrorizing of Sikhs in Oak Creek are symptoms of a larger problem. Determining the source of these symptoms has become an urgent and pressing need.
We can no longer just hope for improvement.
The questions hovering over Dalbir Singh's death point to a deep societal problem, and while we celebrate his life and begin to move forward, let us ask ourselves a difficult but necessary question: what are we doing to identify the source of these symptoms so that we can address the underlying problem?
[Courtesy: The Huffington Post. Edited for sikhchic.com]
August 17, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Bhupinder Singh Mahal (Dundas, Ontario, Canada), August 17, 2012, 9:17 AM.
SALDEF and UNITED SIKHS are reporting that Milwaukee police department believes that Dalbir Singh was shot and killed on Wednesday night while closing his store at his north-side neighborhood market in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. This was a case of an attempted robbery and that there is "no evidence that it is a hate crime".
2: Simran Jeet Singh (New York, USA), August 17, 2012, 12:11 PM.
Thank you, Bhupinder, for pointing out these details. You are correct in that the murder is being investigated as an attempted robbery. However, no motive has yet been determined. Officials have not yet ruled out the possibility of this being a hate crime. I am reserving judgment until they conclude the investigation. However, I do think it is important and helpful to view this killing in the context of the previous gurdwara massacre and consider what this means to us as a community.
3: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 17, 2012, 3:28 PM.
Even if this was an attempted robbery, did the store-owner's being a Sikh play a role in his death?
4: Sarjit Kaur (Bethel Park, PA, USA), August 17, 2012, 4:27 PM.
Probably classifying the case as a robbery to prevent fear amongst the local citrizens? Is America so free, that an idiot, could ignorant bigot could make a death threat to another American on the roadway? The Sikh should have taken the driving license information and reported him!
5: Raj (Canada), August 17, 2012, 11:02 PM.
An average American's intelligence is no better than a Taiban of Afghanistan. Both like guns, neither will travel 20 miles from where they were born, neither can point out any other country on the world map, etc. The similarities are just too enormous.
6: Dr. Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), August 20, 2012, 7:34 AM.
Just wondering why the mainstream media did not cover this tragic story? Any clues!