Hand in hand: Tucsonans of all faiths honor Wisconsin shooting victims
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - One week after gunfire erupted in the middle of a Sikh congregation in Wisconsin, Tucson's local Sikh community gathered to honor those lost and stand up against hate.
"We are going to pray for the souls of the slain of the community, and ask for strength and courage to stand together," said local Sikh Parminder Singh.
And it wasn't just Sikhs. Christians, Jews and Muslims stood together side by side Sunday morning. It was an outpouring of support from people of all faiths that surprised even the Sikh community.
"We had no idea if our local Tucson community would show up, but I'm just overwhelmed at this stream of people walking in and coming together," said Nirvair Khalsa, director of the Khalsa Montessori School. The school hosted today's memorial service.
For year's Sikhs tell 9OYS they've felt discriminated against and judged because they appeared different.
"There's a lot of fear of people that look different, that have a different race, religion, accent or nationality," said Khalsa.
For Sikhs, their worst nightmare turned into a reality last Sunday. When a congregation, much like the one that gathered Sunday in Tucson was cut short by gunfire. But Sikhs say in one short week, things have already started to change.
"Since the incident I feel that my own kids are more secure because of the way the American community has responded to all this," said Singh.
The response in Tucson just as powerful. Everyone in attendance says they were personally touched by the act of senseless violence thousands of miles away from Tucson. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild among those who paid tribute. January 8th shooting survivor Patricia Maisch did too. Congressman Raul Grijalva reminded the crowd they are not alone.
"The loss you suffer is a shared pain," Grijalva said. "We are all one."
The Mayor honored the local Sikh community with a special proclamation. He proclaimed August 12th as Tucson Sikh Community Day. The Mayor encourages all Tucsonans to take a moment Sunday to remember those killed in the August 5th Oak Creek, Wisconsin shooting.