NEWS SPECIAL/CONNECTICUT TRAGEDY
‘We stand together’
The community mourns the
Arthur J Pais reports
A vigil in Derby, Connecticut. Below, the poster signed by attendees at the Brookfield gurdwara, Wisconsin
Within hours of the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School breaking, Sikhs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, began to call up friends and family members and decided to hold a prayer vigil at the Brookfield gurdwara.
A few months ago, the same gurdwara had an interfaith
prayer meeting, attended by Wisconsin Governor Scott
Walker, his wife Tonette and hundreds of others, after the
mass shooting at the Oak Creek gurdwara in Milwaukee in
which seven worshippers were killed.
Raj Sandhu, a Brookfield gurdwara member, said though
no Sikh children or teachers were killed in the Connecticut
shooting — in which Adam Lanza, 20, killed 26 people including his mother and 20 children before committing suicide — they were mourning the violence
that senselessly and abruptly ended the lives of so
“We remembered how much we had felt comforted
by the outpouring of love and sympathy we had
received after the Oak Creek murders,” said
Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president, Brookfield gur-
dwara. “We spontaneously thought we should offer
comfort to the people in Newtown.”
His voice choked as he said, “We thought what hap-
pened at the Sikh temple was the worst thing to hap-
pen because it was a place of worship. But this is
High school student Jyoti Grewal, Gurcharan
Grewal’s daughter, proposed that a poster — signed
by many who attended the vigil — should be sent to
Sandy Hook. At the top, it said: ‘We stand together.’
Over 150 people had signed the poster, she said,
and she would be sending it to the school.
“We had held a similar vigil for the victims of a
salon killing that followed the gurdwara killings,” said
Gurcharan Grewal. “The salon victims were not
Sikhs, they were not Indians, but we showed we shared
the pain of the larger community.”
The Brookfield vigil brought in people of different
nationalities and faiths, he said.
‘It’s too easy to get a gun. Something has to be done’
ARTHUR J PAIS
‘Idon’t want this to be the new normal,’ Jyoti Grewal, a high school senior, said last week addressing more than 150
people at an interfaith meeting held at the
Brookfield gurdwara in Wisconsin. ‘We need
legislation to fix the problem. There are too
many loopholes. It’s too easy to get a gun.
Something has to be done.’
She remembered how white supremacist
Wade Michael Page had killed Sikhs at a
nearby gurdwara in Oak Creek before being
shot by police and killing himself.
She does not believe in the argument that
the situation could have been averted if there
were people with guns inside the temple.
‘Of course, you can do a lot of harm with
other weapons,’ she said. ‘But guns create the
The teenager joined an increasing gun
control demand across the country that now
includes prominent voices like that of Chitra
Banerjee Divakaruni, the bestselling novel-
ist. She echoed President Barack Obama’s
thoughts at an interfaith vigil for the 26 peo-
ple massacred in Newtown.
Jyoti, who joined a vigil in October for the
spa victims, also got the participants in a
gurdwara vigil to sign a big poster and delivered to the spa when it reopened. She says
she was overcome with emotion when she
delivered the poster.
‘Especially, hugging all the ladies there,’
she told a local newspaper. ‘They were all
really nice to me. I got a hug from everyone
I talked to. It was really emotional, especial-
ly experiencing tragedy not so long ago our-
Based on production data from firearm
manufacturers, there are roughly 320 mil-
lion firearms owned by civilians in the
Of these, about 100 million are handguns.
Over 60 percent of the murders committed
in America are by guns.
Roughly 16,272 murders were committed
in the United States during 2008, for exam-
ple; of these, about 10,886 or 67 percent
were committed with firearms.