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Remembering 6 Shooting Deaths At Wisconsin Sikh Temple

A year ago, a white supremacist shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.
A year ago, a white supremacist shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.

One year ago Monday, Wade Michael Page, a gunman with links to neo-Nazi groups, went to a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and killed six worshippers. Family members, law enforcement and the larger community marked the anniversary over the weekend.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker praised the Sikh community for calling for greater understanding and peace.

"The brightest moment out of all this is that yet again, you've showed this community, this state, the country and the world that love can triumph," Walker said at a memorial service at the temple on Sunday.

At the temple, there's very little physical sign of the damage from the shootings. Temple official Dr. Harcharan Gill says the main exception is a small round hole on an inner door frame. Gill says that the bullet holes are there to "remind us of what happened on the fifth."

Temple officials have installed more security cameras, and a security guard is often on duty. WUVM's Erin Toner reported last week that some worshippers are fearful of violence, but others are "even more determined to confront prejudice against their faith."

The one-year anniversary events commemorating the victims have stressed openness and a much brighter theme, like the Sikh term Chardi Kala, which roughly translates to "relentless optimism."

"The love, the love that the community shows it [is] what's conquering the hate," Mandeep Kaur, a youth leader and member of the Sikh temple told Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More. "So I think that is the message. That if you conquer hate with love, that we don't leave any room for the hate."

Other area Sikh leaders are expanding an effort in the schools to reduce violence, but that may be a tall order. On a weekend when Sikhs and others gathered to remember six worshippers killed a year ago, police say at least two Milwaukee residents died in street violence and about a dozen local people were wounded.

Copyright 2013 Wisconsin Public Radio

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