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Elk Grove’s 100th Park: A New Neighborhood Spot in Northern California Honors 2 Sikh Men Killed in 2011

Elk Grove’s 100th Park: A New Neighborhood Spot in Northern California Honors 2 Sikh Men Killed in 2011

  • Five years in making, Singh and Kaur Park is dedicated to Gurmej Atwal, 72 and Surinder Singh, 65, who’s double homicide remains unsolved nine years later.

The Sikh community in Northern California came together this past weekend for the inauguration of Singh and Kaur Park in Elk Grove. The park, which opened on May 29, is dedicated in honor of two Sikh men, Gurmej Atwal and Surinder Singh, who were killed in 2011. Atwal, 72, and his friend, Singh, 65, were out for their regular afternoon stroll when someone drove by, shot and killed them. Nine years later, the double homicide is yet unsolved.

Atwal’s son, Kamaljit, told ABC10 a few years back that the family would never give up hope of a suspect being brought to justice. “Hope is life,” he said. “So, never lose your hope. I’m pretty sure the day will come when he or she will be arrested.”

At the May 29 park opening, prominent members of the community, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, spoke about solidarity and about what this park means to them. Singh is the first Sikh woman in the nation to be directly elected mayor. “I was here over the weekend and it was packed,” she told ABC 10. “And families were enjoying it, just a lot of wonderful amenities here,” she said. 

“Thanks to the community and all the hard work of everyone, this park has come to fruition,” said community organizer Mandeep Singh. “To honor the community of Elk Grove, honor those that were slain who we still seek justice for, and it’s really just a way to bring everyone together.”

In a Facebook post, the Jakarta Movement, one of the organizers of the park inauguration wrote: “This was an evening of community coming together to celebrate our successes, reflect on our potential and build together in the presence of sangat.”

In a video produced by the city on the park’s dedication, Singh-Allen said the neighborhood park is unlike any other in the county. “This park is dedicated to the Sikh American community, but specifically, it’s a reflection of the two tragic murders that happened in our community.”

Atwal’s son, Kamaljit Atwal said the park “is representing two innocent souls. 

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Amar Shergill, a local attorney who is close with the victims’ families, was involved in the park project. “It’s fulfilling to me personally and I also know that the community is going to come together around this,” he said in the video. Shergill said the park represents the efforts of an entire community. After the 2011 shootings, hundreds of residents in Elk Grove’s Sikh community successfully petitioned city leaders in 2016 to name a park in their honor. That same year, Elk Grove City Council proclaimed Elk Grove a “No Place for Hate” city.

As per the Elk Grove Citizen, the park took five years to plan, design, and build. Photos shared on social media by various groups and individuals show glimpses of the 5-acre park. On either side of the park are brushed stainless steel sculptures that represent the Kara, a simple steel bangle that many Sikhs, both women and men, wear around their wrists. Statues of lions and lionesses overlook the park’s playground – both symbolize the park’s common Sikh names  — “Singh” translates to “lion,” and Kaur means, “lioness.”

Visitors can learn more about Surinder Singh and Gurmej Singh Atwal in the park’s memorial plaques that share their histories. The park also has two playgrounds, a basketball court, a corn hole, a volleyball court, a bocce ball court, a walking path and a covered picnic area. Singh and Kaur Park also made history as Elk Grove’s 100th park.

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