Virginians to gather Friday evening to remember Sikh victims during vigil

Posted at 1:41 PM, Aug 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-10 13:41:17-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- It has been a difficult road to recovery for those in the Sikh community, around the country and here in the Commonwealth.

"We are really, really stunned and shocked when we heard this news," said Sikh community member Bimal Sandhu.  "Initially it was a huge disbelief.  How could that happen to us?  All we believe in is peace."

But peace was interrupted by violence when Wade Michael Page, 40, allegedly killed six people worshipping at a Sikh temple--and injured two others outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Sunday.

"We hope these kinds of incidents don't happen in the future--that they don't happen to anybody," said Sandhu.

Page reportedly had ties with a white supremacy group and may have mistaken Sikhs for Muslims.

"We're reiterating we are a very peace-loving community, it was a mistake in identity," said Sikh community member Veronica Sikka.

But here in Central Virginia, Bimal Sandhu and Veronica Sikka will join others Friday night at the Capitol Bell Tower to honor the victims during a vigil.  Sandhu and Sikka said they're hopeful the vigil offers peace and forgiveness.

"No hatred on our part but just an opportunity for us to educate people who may not understand what it means to be a Sikh and what our contributions are and what our roles in society are," said Sikka.

Back in March it's believed the alleged temple shooter performed with a white power rock band in Chesterfield.  Still despite possibly having Page so close, Sandhu and Sikka  said they are focused on putting their faith into action.

"We believe in forgiveness and we are going to follow that," said Sandhu.

The Richmond vigil will take place at the Bell Tower, at the corner of Capitol Square from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.