SHAWNEE, Kan. - A group of Sikhs based in Shawnee plans to travel to Oak Creek, Wisc., this weekend to offer their support to the victim’s families after this weekend's fatal shooting.
The group, Kansas City Midwest Sikh Association Gurdwara, is collecting letters of support and monetary donations for the shooting victims.They hope this tragedy will encourage people to learn about the Sikh religion.
The Shawnee Sikh Gurudwara temple has been a safe place for families for nearly 40 years. Anyone is welcome inside their temple.
"At night, the temple gates are open, our doors are unlocked. We are a very open community. We don't have anything to hide", said member Satinder Kaur Hundal.
This week, the Sikh group is forced to reconsider enhanced security on the Gurdwara temple campus.
"My kids walk to this facility, as a parent do i need to rethink that, do I let them walk here for their own safety", said member Charanjit Hundal.
The Sikhs untrimmed hair and brightly colored turbans distinguish them in American society. Following September 11th, some Sikh groups have been misidentified as radical Muslims.
At the Sikh temple in Shawnee, members added security cameras three years ago, in response to vandals that got inside and destroyed the building, throwing raw meat into the prayer room. In the wake of Sunday's shooting, local Sikh leaders are speaking with the police chiefs in Kansas City and Shawnee. They tell 41 Action News that adding any security is a delicate balance.
"It's a double edged sword, as a faith we want to be open, but as a person of faith, I don't want to be fearful in my place of worship," Hundal said.
The local Sikh community asked to share a few key facts of their religion. their faith is based in India, not the Middle East. They believe in one god, and do not support violence. In Sikhism all classes, races and genders are equal.
On Monday, passersby carefully placed flowers by the Kansas’ temple entrance. Members say they're a constant reminder of what Sikhs call "a crime of ignorance" in Oak Creek.
The Kansas City Sikh Association will hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims on Friday at 8:45pm at Shawnee temple at 6834 Pflumm Road. Any donations can be made out to the Midwest Sikh Association.
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