By Mike Kinney
Dozens of people people gathered for a candle light vigil on Saturday at the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area in El Sobrante to memory of Texas sheriff’s deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, who was fatally shot from behind during a routine traffic stop on Sept. 28.
Sihk communities across the nation are grieving Dhaliwal’s death, as he was a trailblazer who became one of the first law enforcement officers in the country permitted to display articles of his faith, a beard and turban. The 42-year-old Harris County deputy and father of three was also well-loved in his community.
The El Sobrante vigil was officiated by former City of Richmond Council member Harpreet Sandu. Law enforcement representatives from Richmond, San Pablo, El Cerrito and Contra Costa County attended, and some officers present were also Sikh community members.
County Supervisor John Gioia addressed offered words of comfort and inspiration during the vigil, as did Bay Area poet and Richmond resident, Jerome Smith.
“We came here to remember because he was a hero, he was a community leader, he served the people,” said Amrik Pannu Singh, community liaison for the El Sobrante Gurdwara.
The deputy was a representation of the pride the Sikh community has in its faith, and also in being American.
“I salute the whole community,” Singh said. “We are part of it and we are proud to be American.”