U.S. Attorney meets with Charlotte's Sikh community
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CHARLOTTE--As Charlotte's Sikh community worships inside, the victims of August's deadly attack inside a Wisconsin Sikh temple remain in their hearts.
"We don't want to forget this tragedy. We want to use it as a stepping point," said Ajay Singh.
That stepping point took shape Sunday, as U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins and other federal law enforcement representatives spent an hour meeting with Sikh leaders.
The discussion touched on everything from religious profiling, to raising awareness of hate crimes.
"Diversity training and tolerance discussions is always paramount. It's issues like what happened in Wisconsin that really do bring it to the forefront," said Tompkins.
Sikh leaders and law enforcement in Charlotte believe the Wisconsin rampage, which killed six people and injured four, was rooted in misconceptions about the Sikh religion.
"Our biggest challenge is mistaken identity, facial hair, turban give rise to fear," said Pushpinder Singh.
"They are a peace loving people and they want to be understood," said Tompkins.
Sikh leaders and the U.S. Attorney's Office plan on hosting a summit this fall with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
It's intended to teach students and parents about different world religions and their customs, in the hopes it can prevent bullying and tensions.
"They can being understand cultural differences so that they grow up with it, so we don't have folks becoming adults and not having that kind of a relationship with people who are culturally different," said Tompkins.
Tompkins said the U.S. Attorney's Office had been meeting with Charlotte Sikh community for 18 months before the shooting and plan to continue that dialogue in the months ahead.