Biden commemorates victims of 2012 Wisconsin Gurdwara shooting

Washington, DC: Mourning the loss of lives in a mass shooting by a white supremacist at a gurdwara in Wisconsin nine years ago, President Joe Biden has admitted that there has been a rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans amidst the pandemic and promised to work with the community members to combat the scourge.

On August 5, 2012, a white supremacist opened fire inside the Oak Creek gurdwara in Wisconsin, killing seven people.

“On this day, in 2012, I was with another friend who’s half Sikh–he’s a Sikh. And we were dealing with 10 people shot in a hateful act of bigotry at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Seven people lost their lives that day. Today, we honor everyone impacted by the tragedy,” Biden told reporters at the White House.

In an interaction with reporters after his meeting with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPP) civil rights leaders, Biden acknowledged that there has been a rise in hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We think about all the pain during this pandemic with the rise in hate crimes, harassment, bullying and other forms of bias against Asian-Americans,” a CBS-affiliated television station quoted Biden as saying.

“It seems not to stop,” he said.

Several Indian-Americans were invited to attend Biden’s meeting at the White House.

The White House in a statement said President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with these leaders to discuss a wide range of issues, including the administration’s ”Build Back Better Agenda.”

The conversation focused on the importance of combating the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, economic opportunity, commitment to equity, protecting the sacred right to vote, and immigration reform.

“During the meeting, the President and Vice President reiterated their promise to work together to ensure the needs of the diaspora of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA & NHPI) communities are heard, uplifted and met,” it said.

Earlier on Thursday, Biden urged Americans to stand up to hate and bigotry and ensure that all are able to practice their faith without fear.

“Nine years ago today, we witnessed an act of unspeakable hate as a white supremacist shot ten people at a Sikh Temple,” Biden tweeted.

“As we remember those we lost in Oak Creek, we must continue to stand up to hate and bigotry and ensure that all are able to practice their faith without fear,” the US president wrote as Sikhs in the country marked the ninth anniversary of the tragedy.

Indian-American rights leaders who attended the meeting were Seema Agnani from the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD); Satjeet Kaur from Sikh Coalition; Kiran Kaur Gill from Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF); and Neil Makhija from Indian American Impact.

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