Today, SAALT grieves the loss of life in the latest mass shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana: On Thursday, April 15th, 2021, the Indiana community lost Matthew R. Alexander (32), Samaria Blackwell (19), Amarjeet Johal (66), Jasvinder Kaur (50), Jaswinder Kaur Singh (70), Amarjit Sekhon (49), Karli Smith (19), and John Weisert (74). Our hearts are heavy and mourn with the victims’ families and community members, who are undoubtedly reeling from the trauma of losing their loved ones. Of particular note, four of the eight victims were our Sikh siblings and fellow community members.
Just after 11:00 PM EDT on April 15th, a now-identified gunman entered an Indianapolis Fedex facility where he was previously employed, and opened fire, taking the lives of those mentioned above and injuring several others, before taking his own life. Since the investigation into the incident and the gunman’s motive is ongoing, and we are awaiting more detailed facts, we must prioritize those currently in recovery. Of utmost importance are those left behind tending to both their physical wounds and the deep trauma of having to return to a workplace and community where fellow community members were so tragically taken.
Such an act of mass violence sends reverberations across Sikh and South Asian communities, evoking past pain and grief rooted in decades of similar violent acts. Though the motive is still unclear, understandably this type of event triggers fear and uncertainty — much like what the community faced after 9/11 and in the aftermath of the killing of six Sikhs at a gurdwara in Oak Creek in 2012. SAALT stands in solidarity with our Sikh community, in Indianapolis and across the country, as we move towards healing.
We are struck by the trend of violence against immigrant workers, who have not only taken on essential work during a global pandemic, but have also been particularly vulnerable to its health and economic consequences as a result of their work. SAALT stands in solidarity with immigrant and essential workers, and honors the care they have poured into our community despite widespread bigotry.
We are also disheartened by the loss of both elders, who were pillars of strength and resilience, and of young people, who were beacons of hope and life. As SAALT stands in solidarity with our elders and young folks, we are reminded of the practice of chardi kala: a Sikh spiritual practice that reminds us to center compassion, optimism, and courage, even in times of adversity and grief. For decades, the Sikh community has shown that resilience is possible even as they continually face tragedy, and our solidarity honors, centers, and uplifts that always; this is the thread we hope our community can center as we continue to process our grief. If you are looking to support Sikh siblings at this time of strife, please consider directing your resources to the following organizations:
- Sikh Coalition
- Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF)
- Jakara Movement
- Kaur Life