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The Straight Story

(48,121 posts)
Sun Aug 4, 2013, 09:52 PM Aug 2013

After Sikh temple attack, victimís son and former white supremacist formed unlikely alliance [View all]

OAK CREEK, Wis. — Six weeks after a white supremacist gunned down Pardeep Kaleka’s father and five others at a Sikh temple last year, Kaleka was skeptical when a former skinhead reached out and invited him to dinner.

But Kaleka accepted, and he’s grateful he did. Since then, the grieving son and repentant racist have formed an unlikely alliance, teaming up to preach a message of peace throughout Milwaukee. In fact, they’ve grown so close that they got matching tattoos on their palms — the numbers 8-5-12, the date the gunman opened fire at a Milwaukee-area Sikh temple before killing himself minutes later.

It wasn’t easy for Kaleka to meet Arno Michaelis, a 42-year-old who admits he contributed so heavily to the white-power movement that he might have helped influence the shooter. Kaleka knows Michaelis’ history — his lead singing in a white supremacist band, the white-power and swastika tattoos, the countless fights and more than a dozen arrests.

But he also saw the good work Michaelis has done since he quit the racist movement in the mid-1990s. Kaleka, 37, wanted his father’s death to be a catalyst for peace, and he saw in Michaelis a partner whose story could reinforce the message that it’s possible to turn hate into love.

“We were both hoping ... we could take something tragic and turn it into something positive — a learning experience for the entire community,” Kaleka said. “We were both on that same mission, in our different ways.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/after-sikh-temple-attack-victims-son-and-former-white-supremacist-formed-unlikely-alliance/2013/08/04/3e49d8fe-fd19-11e2-8294-0ee5075b840d_story.html

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