Oak Creek must celebrate its diversity

The events of last Sunday, August 5th, are a tragic and violent example of the effects of extreme hate and anger in our society, and the role they can play in undermining the safety of all of us, and our nation.

The members of our local Sikh community were doing nothing more than celebrating their faith in their place of worship, on a clear Sunday morning, when they were viciously and violently attacked because of who they are, and how they look. The response of the Sikh community since the event has been nothing short of inspiring, and we can all learn from their tremendous examples of kindness and compassion.

As you know Lt. Brian Murphy continues to recover from injuries suffered in the shooting at the Sikh Temple. We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to Brian, his wife, and his family. Brian’s heroic actions, as well as those of his fellow police officers, saved lives, and are a clear and shining example of their unselfish commitment to public safety.

In the midst of this event, many groups and individuals stepped up to volunteer and help, easing the burden on our local fire and police departments, and aiding in the support and grieving process for our local Sikh Temple families. There are too many to thank in this space (a list is available on our City of Oak Creek website home page) but I did want to recognize the work of several people who stood out, and were instrumental in relieving the fears and emotions of our residents.

Police Chief John Edwards, whose leadership in the uncertainty and turmoil of the aftermath of the shooting, clearly helped calm and reassure our community. Fire Chief Tom Rosandich, who leads a department of highly-trained first responders, who provided immediate and critical medical services to all those impacted. Brian Satula, Wisconsin’s Emergency Management Administrator, and a local resident, who provided me with clear direction in the volatility of the situation on the ground, immediately after the shooting. Finally, Amardeep Singh of the Sikh Coalition, whose considerable knowledge and wisdom gave me a better understanding of the Sikh Community, and their questions and concerns.

As we begin to move forward, I ask all of you to help me continue our efforts to celebrate the growing diversity of Oak Creek, to reach out to members of our community who may look or speak differently than you do, and to embrace that diversity as the best way to build a stronger city, one which we can all be proud of.

Steve Scaffidi is the mayor of Oak Creek. Scaffidi, along with Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards and Fire Chief Tom Rosandich will be the featured Newsmakers at a special forum to be held by the Milwaukee Press Club. For more information about the meeting, visit www.milwaukeepressclub.org.

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