Sikh community to hold open house in response to hate crimes

Local Sikh community to hold open house in response to hate crimes

Members of the local Sikh community are teaming with a new El Sobrante group to hold a community forum and open house in response to recent hate crimes.

On Wednesday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m., the El Sobrante Gurdwara is partnering with Not In Our Town, El Sobrante to hold an event open to the community at El Sobrante Gurdwara on 3550 Hillcrest Rd in El Sobrante.

The event will include a forum and open house on the Sikh religion, and is aimed at reaffirming “a community commitment to inclusion, love, and understanding.”

Last week, two Texas men were ordered to stand trial on felony assault charges with hate crime enhancements related to the beating of Sikh resident Maan Singh Khalsa in Richmond last year.

A month later, Will Sims, an African American musician, was beaten at an El Sobrante pool hall and then fatally shot in a murder initially alleged as a hate crime, although a grand jury later rejected the hate crime charges against the three suspects.

Since the incidents, members of the community have been concerned about a perceived increase in local hate crimes. It led to the formation of Not In our Town, El Sobrante, a newly formed group of local residents who are part of the national Not in Our Town movement to address intolerance.

“Most residents were  saddened by these horrendous two crimes and the community’s response was strong,” El Sobrante Gurdwara officials said. “There is no place for hate in our town.”

The community event on May 24 will feature a film screening of Waking in Oak Creek, the 2013 film about the murder of six worshipers by a white supremacist at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI.

The event will also feature storytelling and music by El Sobrante residents and delicious food.

Note to attendees: The Sikh tradition requires that everyone cover their heads and remove their shoes when entering the Gurdwara.