WRIC: Richmond community, faith leaders unify to hold vigil for Sikh victims of Indianapolis mass shooting

WRIC, TYLER THRASHER

The Indianapolis mass shooting on April 15 at a FedEx facility saw eight people killed and four of them belonged to the Sikh community. In the Richmond area, the Sikh Association of Central Virginia held a vigil to honor the victims.

Many groups of faith gathered in unity to support the Sikh community after the tragedy in Indianapolis.

Sikhism has three core values: believing in God, living by hard work and sharing with the less fortunate. On Saturday, all of those values were expressed as they mourned the loss of those in their community.

Prayers, hymns and conversations were held to shed light and give meaning to the lives lost.

A volunteer read the names of all eight names killed in the tragedy, not just those of the Sikh faith.

Volunteers at the vigil, like Bimaljit Singh, said these tragic incidents of gun violence and hate must end and he calls for police to investigate the Indianapolis incident as a racial attack.

“This just makes those wounds ripe again,” B. Singh said. “We have been through this in 2012. There was a shooting at the Old Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin in 2012. The pain we have suffered because of the hate… this makes all of the old wounds raw.”

Dr. Bimaljit Singh lead the vigil on Saturday and took to the podium to introduce several state delegates. He said the Sikh people just want to belong in the community they live in.

“We are adults, we can handle ourselves,” B. Singh said. “But we shouldn’t be handling ourselves in this free democratic country. We should be living as freely, as proudly as Americans as anybody else is.”

Inderpreet Singh, another volunteer, said the incidents in Indianapolis are “shocking.”

“We are Americans. We look different. We feel we are part of this community,” Singh said. “They’re our brothers and sisters and we are all together in this.”

Representative Abigail Spanberger, VA-07, and other local community leaders like State Senator Ghazala Hashmi were in attendance. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney sent in a video to express his condolences.

“Every time there is some sort of crisis, the Sikh community responds,” Spanberger said. “When there were shortages of PPE, the Sikh community of Central Virginia arranged to get masks and delivered them to first responders and to hospitals.”

Spanberger said unity is the only way to escape tragedy.

“We have to stand together against the hate that created the most recent of mass murders in Indianapolis or the prior mass murder in Atlanta and the list goes on and on and on,” Spanberger said.

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