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Sikh Temple In Wisconsin Reopens For First Time Since Shooting

Members of the Sikh temple of Wisconsin wash items as they return for the first time in Oak Creek, Wis.
Jeffrey Phelps
Members of the Sikh temple of Wisconsin wash items as they return for the first time in Oak Creek, Wis.

This afternoon for the first time since a gunman opened fire and killed six people on Sunday, volunteers and members of the Sikh community ventured back into the temple.

As soon as the FBI allowed it, they started the grim task of cleaning the Gurdwara. The Sikh Coalition has been tweeting on the progress. They noted that they received help from the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Amardeep Singh has also been tweeting from the temple. He posted a picture of a small pantry where he said 16 people hid waiting for the shooting spree to end. He posted another picture of sewadars, or volunteers, pressure-washing the floors. Singh posted a picture of a bullet hole on a door frame. He said that one would not be repaired and would be left there as "a memorial and remembrance of what happened."

As Mark has noted, throughout this tragedy the Sikh community has maintained not only calm but peace. On Twitter this afternoon, the Sikh Coalition reminded the world of the Sikh concept of Charhdi Kala or resilience.

"The Sikh spirit ... resists fear/ego/anger and compels us to fight for justice for all," the Coalition tweeted. "We are not victims. We are Sikhs."

Perhaps that idea was best explained by Oak Creek, Wis. Police Chief John Edwards during a vigil on Tuesday.

"In 28 years of law enforcement, I have seen a lot of hate," he said according to The Hindu. "I have seen a lot of revenge. I've seen a lot of anger. What I saw, particularly from the Sikh community this week was compassion, concern, support. What I didn't see was hate. I did not see revenge. I didn't see any of that. And in law enforcement that's unusual to not see that reaction to something like this. I want you all to understand how unique that is."

Tomorrow the community will gather in Oak Creek to remember the victims. Attorney General Eric Holder will deliver remarks beginning at noon.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.