SAALT Stands in Solidarity with Sikh Siblings

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