Community members attend a vigil days after the deadly mass shooting at Oak Creek's Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

The Oak Creek massacre signaled the rise of White supremacist violence. But the warnings went unheeded

Updated 4:24 AM ET, Fri August 5, 2022

(CNN)No one in the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, could ever have imagined the horror that would unfold on August 5, 2012.

But when Pardeep Singh Kaleka looks back on that tragedy, in which a White supremacist gunman killed his father and six others at a Sikh gurdwara, he wonders if they should have seen it coming.
"There was a certain understanding that it could happen in life, it could happen in the streets, and it could happen in different places -- but not at a faith site while people pray on a Sunday," he told CNN. "At the same time, especially around the surrounding Milwaukee areas, there was a heightened sense of political tension with the changing demographics."
When Kaleka's family moved to Wisconsin from Punjab, India, in the '80s, they got curious looks and questions about their turbans. Despite occasionally being subjected to hate, Kaleka says, they mostly felt welcomed. After 9/11, that curiosity turned to suspicion and prejudice and brown people across the country were being targeted in racist attacks. Tensions simmered as more immigrants moved in, and the gulf between Republicans and Democrats grew wider.
Portraits of the victims hang in the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek.
The Oak Creek shooting was a wake-up call -- a harbinger of the racist, extremist violence that would again rear its head in other places like Charleston, South Carolina; Pittsburgh; El Paso, Texas and Buffalo, New York. Bu