Relentless Optimism: Remembering Oak Creek | Not in Our Town

Relentless Optimism: Remembering Oak Creek

by Taryn Smith

"Chardhi Kala" is the spirit of relentless optimism: a philosophy that empowers us to persevere and grow from hardship.

The story of the Sikh Temple hate crime killings in Wisconsin is one of tragedy and heartbreak, but through the actions of Sikh leaders, family members, and the Oak Creek community, it is a remarkable story of courage and relentless optimism or Chardi Kala. 

After four years we still grieve the six lives lost on August 5th, 2012 when a white supremacist opened fire at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI. The lone gunman shot 10 people, seriously injuring 3 and killing 7 including himself. Not in Our town told their story in the film, Waking in Oak Creek.
The film has spread to over 800 communities across the country, with 3,800 people signing up for screenings. Family members of those lost, the mayor, police chief, and the police lieutenant who was shot 15 times defending the temple continue to be powerful speakers and active leaders in the quest to stop hate and violence and promote compassion. We are honored to have these leaders join us for Not In Our Town screenings and events across the country.  

Waking In Oak Creek

As the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin prepares for Sunday prayers, a deadly hate attack shatters their lives, but not their resilience. After six worshipers are killed by a white supremacist, the local community finds inspiration in the Sikh tradition of forgiveness and faith. Lieutenant Murphy, shot 15 times in the attack, joins the mayor and police chief as they forge new bonds with the Sikh community. Young temple members, still grieving, emerge as leaders in the quest to end the violence.

In the year following the tragedy, thousands gather for vigils and community events to honor the victims and seek connection. Together, a community rocked by hate is awakened and transformed by the Sikh spirit of relentless optimism.

For more information about this film, including press and screening kits, please click here

This film was produced in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office as part of the Not In Our Town: Working Together for Safe, Inclusive Communities Initiative.

Documentary - 34 minutes

Chardhi Kala 6k

To mark the anniversary of this tragic shooting, Oak Creek will be hosting the Chardhi Kala 6k in memory of the lives lost in 2012, and in celebration of bringing the community together. Here is a message from the organizers: 

"We would be honored if you would join us in remembering the loved ones lost on that horrific day. Your presence would show that this is not only a Sikh tragedy, but also an American tragedy. We must take a stand against violence by coming together with kindness and love." 
Look for upcoming events and screenings of Waking in Oak Creek  in September in the Detroit area, Battle Creek, Michigan, Boston and Worcester, MA. 

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