Organizers within the Jakara Movement have been circulating petitions for signatures to rename Stonecreek Park in southwest Bakersfield. They came together Wednesday evening for a town hall meeting, to show just how many people support the idea.
The Sikh community in Bakersfield is a large and growing group of mothers, fathers, students, city workers, business owners and tax payers.
Last week, the Bakersfield chapter of the national Sikh nonprofit organization Jakara Movement sparked the idea of renaming Stonecreek Park to “Jaswant Singh Khalra Park.”
An organizer of the movement, Manpreet Kaur, said, “Jaswant Singh Khalra was a human rights activist of the Sikh community. He’s very revered in Sikh history.”
Khalra was killed in 1995 after exposing the disappearance of some 25,000 Sikh youth who were being killed by Punjabi police.
Mandeep Singh, a Sikh community member, said of Khalra, “We’re very proud of his achievements. He was a Martin Luther King to our Sikh community.”
And that was the sentiment of the crowd at Stonecreek Park Wednesday, who came to support the possibility of more prominent Sikh representation in southwest Bakersfield.
“Recognizing the Sikh presence, we’d like to see a permanent landmark in this community that represents its diversity,” Manpreet said.
City councilman Chris Parlier, who represents the area of Stonecreek Park, spoke at Wednesday night’s meeting. He says the subject of renaming the park should go to a committee for further discussion. He will be recommending that to the city council at the council’s next meeting on April 11.
So far, about 400 people have signed the petition in favor of renaming Stonecreek Park.