Mayor Joe Krovoza has issued a proclamation designating April 13 to be “We Are All Sikhs” day in Davis. On this day, all members of the Davis community are encouraged to wear turbans to show their support for the Sikh community.
“I hope this event will show public support for the Sikh community’s many contributions to the region, promote understanding of the Sikh culture, and their traditional headdresses and beards and to condemn intolerance toward peaceful members of our community,” said Krovoza in an e-mail.
Krovoza, who said he will wear a turban to city events, has joined with other cities and counties in the region with similar events, and hopes that the day will show solidarity with the Sikh community.
“Condemning intolerance and recognizing different groups in our community is one of the primary purposes of issuing such proclamations. We have not done one for the Sikh community before,” said Kelly Stachowicz, deputy city manager, in an e-mail.
In Krovoza’s proclamation, he mentioned that many Sikh-Americans have suffered both verbal and physical assaults as a result of misguided anger toward Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans. There have also been a series of attacks against Sikh members in the Sacramento area.
Two elderly Sikh men in Elk Grove were shot on March 4. Surinder Singh and Gurmej Atwal were out on their daily walk when they were both shot in a drive-by shooting. Singh died on the sidewalk while his friend, Atwal, suffered serious injuries and was in critical condition. Police are considering this a hate crime.
The two men had been wearing the traditional turban, or dastar, which is a central feature of the Sikh identity. This turban is worn to cover the uncut hair of the individual, which in Sikhism is viewed as a symbol of God’s perfection.
In West Sacramento in November, Sikh taxi driver Harbhajan Singh was physically attacked by his passengers. In March, one of the attackers pled to a felony assault charge and admitted that his act of violence against Singh was a hate crime. The other attacker also pled to felony assault.
In Krovoza’s proclamation, he explained that the community of Davis should be aware of these recent events, and should stand in solidarity with their Sikh brothers and sisters.
The recent attacks had a significant effect on Puneet Dhillon, sophomore political science major, who is Sikh.
“This tragedy had a profound impact on me and I spent a while lamenting the loss. The older gentlemen reminded me of my own grandfather. They were simple men that were just enjoying a nice day and taking their daily walk and minding their own business. Their lives were sadly taken away from ignorance and a lack of knowledge,” Dhillon said.
“I believe that the idea behind having a Sikh Awareness Day is a step in a positive direction following these hate crimes. I believe education and knowledge can be used to conquer racism and allow acceptance and unity to flourish in our communities,” Dhillon said.
ANNABEL SANDHU can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.