Candles are lit at Sikh Temple of Wisconsin one-year anniversary of shooting, where six where six were killed.
Oak Creek, WI - The Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) of Wisconsin has brought illuminated messages to more vigils than they care to remember. Monday evening’s candlelight vigil at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, in remembrance of six members brutally murdered by a gunman a year ago, was another in a long line of vigils attended by OLB. Wisconsin is a state that has been hit especially hard by gun violence. High profile mass shootings like the ones at the Sikh Temple and the Azana Spa Shooting in Brookfield stoke our country’s will to address this perpetual and growing problem, but this is nothing new for many urban centers, who experience, quite frequently, gun violence in their lives. Whatever the case or situation may be, the fact remains that gun violence can happen anywhere and is not going away. It shouldn’t take a Sandy Hook or a Columbine to get Americans to do something about it.
This gut-wrenching family keynote featured the children of slain Temple member Bhai-Sahib Prakash Singh.
One year ago Monday, a white supremacist walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and opened fire, killing six members of the temple. A year later, the temple wanted to honor the six slain. They organized a beautiful and moving vigil that brought together a wide range of cultures, community groups, and speakers, including families of the victims of the Sandy Hook and Columbine school shootings. Each speaker testified to the deep pain inflicted upon them and others by the loss of loved ones at the hands of guns. No matter the political belief one carries about the current state of guns in our country, everyone can agree that too many are killed everyday prematurely by guns.
This message was held at a candlelight vigil the evening of the Sikh Temple Shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last year.
The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns project, the “No More Names” bus tour, is currently traveling the country to raise awareness of the growing gun violence problem in America. On the back of the bus is a large digital ticker that counts every life taken by gun violence in the U.S. this year. At the beginning of Monday’s Sikh Temple vigil, the number of deaths in the U.S., this year, stood at a staggering 7,753. By the completion of the vigil, that number had noticeably grown by 60 people! If this saddening and sobering realization does not drive home the need for solutions to our gun violence problem, then nothing will, and doing nothing is no answer for those who have had their life cut short by a gun.
The “No More Names” bus count of Americans killed by guns went up a disturbing 60 people during the duration of the vigil (Photo credit: Top photo is OLB and bottom two photos are courtesy of C.M. DeSpears.
Last summer, in a jealous fit of rage, a man walked into the Azana Spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin and shot his estranged wife and several of her co-workers before turning the gun fatally on himself. OLB held “Heavy Hearts” at that vigil in Brookfield, which affected a majority white suburban neighborhood, bringing gun violence into an area that rarely receives it.
Azana Spa Shooting candlelight vigil in Brookfield, Wisconsin last year.
Meanwhile, an unacceptable 108 lives were snuffed out by gun violence last year in the city of Milwaukee, including the life of Alex Cross. Alex was playing basketball with some friends one day when a gunman opened fire killing him and injuring several of his friends. Cross was murdered blocks away from a bridge the Overpass Light Brigade happened to frequent, and his death hit the Holders of the Light very close to home. Gun violence occurs everyday in Milwaukee’s streets and, most times, very little attention is given to it, as The Reverend Willie Brisco of Milwaukee Inner City Allied for Hope (MICAH), astutely pointed out at last night’s Sikh vigil.
This message was taken out blocks away from where Alex Cross, a neighborhood boy, was gunned down while playing basketball in Milwaukee with friends.
Last year, Chicago eclipsed 500 deaths, at the hands of guns. The group, Occupy Rogers Park, organized a candlelight vigil, where 500 stars were placed on a tree, each one with a name, memorializing the lives of those killed. Everyday gun violence in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago are no less important than mass shootings of the likes of Sandy Hook or Columbine. The families of tomorrow’s victims require we do something today. Plug in, and join the actions of groups like Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) and Mothers Against Gun Violence, who are organizing for change today.
OLB message held over I-43 in Milwaukee.
This message was held at the official Oak Creek city candlelight vigil days after last year’s tragic shooting (photo credit: Overpass Light Brigade).
More photos from Monday night’s Oak Creek candlelight vigil can be found here.