Metro Detroit Sikhs honor victims of Indiana shooting with solidarity vigil
Plymouth – The solemn look on Heminder Singh’s face told half the story. The poster he held on Sunday with the names of four of the eight souls lost in a shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis said the rest.
Among the dead late Thursday were four Sikhs, a religious group from India with a presence in the US and Metro Detroit, and this prompted those like Singh to honor them in a solidarity vigil outside a temple of worship.
It was also a call to end the gun violence and anger directed at them because of their presence in American society.
“This is an extremely tragic event for all of us as a Sikh community and for the whole country,” said Singh, 61, of West Bloomfield Township, who joined nearly 50 others to honor the fallen at the Gurdwara Sahib Mata Tripta in Plymouth.
“We hope and pray for the families of all the people we have lost,” he said. “We have a lot of compassion for the family of the person who caused the loss of life. We believe that no matter what, we will remain positive.”
The safety of Sikhs, said Singh, “is an issue because of our looks and identities because far too many incidents have happened over the years.”
About 90% of the workers at the FedEx warehouse near Indianapolis International Airport are members of the local Sikh community, according to Indiana authorities.
Those present cited a 2012 shooting in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that killed six people. A worrying trend that they see as their community’s target for joke and violence based on the turbans men wear or what they look like.
Those of the Sikh faith, of whom there are an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 families in the area, held lit candles that dripped onto the sidewalk on a bright sunny day, praying for peace and an end to the violence.
Raman Singh, 55, of West Bloomfield Township, said, “It doesn’t seem that much has changed”, given the Indiana shooting and past violence against Sikhs.
“This tragedy was too personal for us. It took place in another city in the Midwest, not too different from ours,” she said. “And the names of the victims could have been the names of our own friends and family.”
Dilbag Singh, 51, president of the Gurdwara in Plymouth, described the shooting as “a very tragic and very sad incident”.
This type of gun violence and shootings is “good for no one, especially when it was known” that the man who killed the others and himself was in a fragile state of mind and that his mother had warned the authorities beforehand, Singh said.
“I think we need more (gun) controls to control such murders,” he said. “It’s not just that incident. We know it happened in Colorado. It happened in Atlanta. I think we all need to get together and focus on it so that there can be more controls so that people who are not in theirs In good constitution, the state should not be able to keep all of these weapons. “
D-Canton Township MP Ranjeev Puri condemned the loss of “more casualties to gun violence”.
“Government action is absolutely necessary for these things to be absolutely prevented,” he told the crowd. “And our country has a problem. This month this is the 45th mass shooting in this country. No American should live in fear. And Sikhs are unfortunately disproportionately affected, be it because of their beliefs, their appearance or just who we are . “
These problems, “he added,” won’t come to light until it’s too late. “
That must change, said Puri, towards a community that “remains largely invisible”.