Wisconsin policeman who faced bullets to protect gurdwara, honored by Sikhs in New Jersey

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From left to right, Prabhjot Singh, 16, Parminder Jawanda, 14, Manjot Singh, 8, and Prabhjot Singh Rathor, 17, at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Photo: Lauren Justice for The Washington Post.

Former Oak Creek, Wisconsin Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy, who faced down a terrorist during an attack on the gurdwara Aug. 5, 2012, was recently honored by members of the Sikh community in New Jersey.

Lt. Murphy was the first officer to respond on the scene when the Oak Creed gurdwara in Wisconsin was attacked by an armed gunman in what is considered the deadliest attack in history on Sikhs in the U.S.

Wade Michael Page, who according to news reports was radicalized to be part of the neo-Nazi movement, shot and killed six people and wounded four others before being shot to death by police.

In that deadly incident, former Lt. Murphy was shot 15 times as he engaged the shooter.Creek, Wisconsin. Photo: Lauren Justice for The Washington Post.

A bullet hole is seen on the door frame leading into the Sikh Temple, where children are playing in the background, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. A gold plate beneath the bullet hole reads, “We Are One. 8-5-12.” Photo: Lauren Justice for The Washington Post.

This Dec. 5, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) featured Murphy at their Mid-Year meeting. At the event, former Lt. Murphy was also recognized by members of the Sikh community for his service during the August 5, 2012 attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, a press release from the Sikh Coalition said.

Rucha Kaur, community development director at the Sikh Coalition, and Raghuvinder Singh, member of the Oak Creek sangat, spoke at the event. Raghuvinder Singh is the son of Baba Punjab Singh, who was shot in the August 2012 assault; to this day, he lies in a hospital bed, unable to move or speak.

“We are grateful to Lieutenant Murphy for addressing our officers, and to the Sikh Coalition for joining us and facilitating Mr. Singh as a powerful speaker,” Chief Christopher Leusner, president of NJSACOP and Chief of the Middle Township Police Department, is quoted saying in the press release. “We know that cultural education and interpersonal interaction are key to helping all law enforcement officials better protect our diverse communities, and we thank the Sikh community for continuing to build bridges with their officers across the nation.”

The Sikh community members in attendance honored former Lt. Murphy with a canvas by a Sikh artist as well as a book, Turbans and Tales, which depicts the portraits featured in the critically-acclaimed Sikh Project photography exhibition by British photographers Amit and Naroop.

Former Lt. Murphy has been honored for his service before, including when then-Vice President Joe Biden awarded him and fellow Oak Creek Police Officer Sam Lenda (who also responded to the gurdwara attack) with the Medal of Valor in 2015.

Sikh Coalition, an advocacy organization, has been working with sangats across the country to raise Sikh awareness–including by building relationships with their local and state law enforcement agencies. Sikh Coalition volunteers have held law enforcement-specific training sessions from California to New Jersey, helping police and other first responders learn more about the diverse communities that they are meant to serve and protect, the press release said.

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