Authorities have responded to an incident at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee County, where at least one body was seen lying in the parking lot. CNN affiliate WTMJ is reporting that multiple people may have been shot outside the temple. … Full story
The shooter’s motive is unknown; however, it bears note that in the aftermath of 9/11, a Sikh was mistakenly shot by a revenge-seeking vigilante who mistook the victim for a Muslim because of the clothes he wore, his turban, and his beard.
Balbir Singh Sodhi (1949–September 15, 2001), a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, was murdered in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the first of several cases across the United States that were reported to the police as acts of retaliation for the terrorist attacks. According to family members, Singh Sodhi had been distraught because of the terrorist attacks.
Born in Punjab, India, Sodhi was a member of the Sikh religion. He moved to Los Angeles in 1989, where he worked as a taxicab driver. He later relocated to San Francisco, where he continued to work in that capacity. He saved enough money to buy a gas station in Phoenix and moved there.
On September 15, 2001, Frank Roque shot Sodhi five times, killing him instantly. Roque, who apparently wanted revenge for September 11, mistook him for an Arab because of the clothes he wore, his turban, and his beard. Within 25 minutes of his death, the Phoenix police reported four further attacks on people who either were Middle Easterners or who dressed with clothes thought to be worn by Middle Easterners.
Updated Report (Aug. 6, 2012)
A police officer directs people near a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where a gunman whom authorities identified as Wade Michael Page, 40, stormed the building and opened fire on Sunday, August 5, 2012. The incident left six people and the gunman dead. (Photo credit: Getty Images via CNN)
August 6, 2012
Immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist acts, Sikhs came under attack.
Mistaken for Muslims because of their beards and turbans, they became ripe targets for zealots seeking revenge.
The first person murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks was a Sikh — a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi who was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque.
In the intervening years, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents.
Some Sikhs had their houses vandalized; others were spat upon. In some extreme cases, Sikhs were set upon by groups of people and beaten.
As the incidents waned, the community had hoped the worst was behind them — until Sunday, when a man shot and killed at least six people at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee, wounded a police officer and was himself killed by another officer’s bullets.
Wade Michael Page, 40, an Army veteran, was the gunman and was killed by an officer at the scene, police said Monday.
Witnesses said the gunman had a 9/11 tattoo on one arm. …
While the shooter’s motives are not yet known, what is clear is that the incident has dredged up the sense of shock and sadness Sikhs felt 11 years ago. …
The United States is home to about 700,000 Sikhs, nearly all of Indian origin. The men are easily identifiable by their beards and turbans, a tradition that’s lasted for 500 years.
But the attire and appearance have also meant that they are often mistaken for Muslims, and are targets of anti-Islam attacks.
“Our appearance looks like Osama bin Laden and those of Afghanistan,” Suminder Sodhi, a friend of the Arizona victim, said at the time of the first attack. “But we are different people from Muslim people. We have different beliefs, a different religion.”
Because many of the incidents go unreported and because the FBI doesn’t specifically list them — instead lumping them as “anti-Islamic” crimes — exact numbers are hard to come by. …
Here are some instances from the long list of attacks that Sikhs have faced since 9/11:
– September 15, 2001: Roque guns down Sodhi outside a Mesa gas station. Roque drives up to the station, fires five times and flees. He goes on to shoot at a Lebanese-American gas station clerk and fire into the home of an Afghan-American family later the same day. He is serving a life sentence.
– December 2001: Two men beat store owner Surinder Singh 20 times with metal poles in Los Angeles while they utter, “We’ll kill bin Laden today.”
– March 2004: Vandals scrawl the words, “It’s not your country” in blue spray paint on the wall of the Gurdwara Sahib temple in Fresno, California. The temple was also vandalized a year earlier.
– July 2004: Rajinder Singh Khalsa is beaten unconscious by six men in New York City, after they taunt him and his friend about their turban. The beating leaves Khalsa with multiple fractures.
– August 2006: Iqbal Singh is stabbed in the neck with a steak knife in San Jose, California, while he is standing in the carport of his house. The attacker later tells police he wanted to “kill a Taliban.”
– October 2008: Ajit Singh Chima is punched and kicked in the head while out on his daily walk in Carteret, New Jersey. The attacker does not take anything from Chima.
– January 2009: Jasmir Singh is attacked outside a New York grocery store, with men shouting racial slurs. Two years later, his father is attacked.
– November 2010: Two passengers beat Harbhajan Singh, a Sikh cabdriver, in Sacramento, California, with one of them calling him “Osama bin Laden.”
– March 2011: Gurmej Singh Atwal and Surinder Singh are gunned down in Elk Grove, California, while out on their afternoon walk. They are not robbed and had no enemies, family members say.
– February 2012: A Sikh temple under construction in Sterling Heights, Michigan, is defaced, with graffiti on the wall depicting a gun and a Christian cross. Someone also scrawls “Mohmed,” perhaps in reference to the Muslim prophet Mohammed. …
Who is Wade Michael Page? (NBC Nightly News, Aug. 6, 2012) – Researchers say the alleged gunman in the Wisconsin Sikh temple was deeply involved in hate group subculture. The Army veteran, who was discharged for a drinking problem, played in two bands associated with racist skinheads. NBC’s Pete Williams reports. (01:55)
By Miranda Leitsinger
August 6, 2012
The gunman who allegedly attacked a Sikh temple in southern Wisconsin, killing six people and wounding four, was a “white supremacist skinhead” and “frustrated neo-Nazi” who led a white power punk and metal band, groups that track extremism said Monday.
Wade Michael Page (Phote credit: MySpace, End Apathy via NBC News)
Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, said Page was a member of the Hammerskins, “one of the oldest and largest hardcore racist skinhead groups,” and identified himself as a Northern Hammerskin, part of the group’s upper Midwest branch. …
He said Page also used a pseudonym, “Jack Boot,” an apparent reference to the high military boots worn by members of dictatorial regimes such as Nazi Germany. …
The FBI was “looking at ties to white supremacist groups” in the case, said Teresa Carlson, FBI special agent in charge in Milwaukee. They were also investigating the attack as possible domestic terrorism, which she noted meant use of force or violence for social or political gain. …
Since 2009, the United States has been in the middle of a “huge resurgence” of right-wing extremism largely split into two spheres: an anti-government extremist one, such as the militia movement, and white supremacists, Pitcavage said. The number of militia groups has quintupled in the past three years and there have been many arrests of white supremacists over the same time for acts of violence, he said.
The election of a non-white president and the struggling economy were the triggers, Pitcavage said. …
Rep. Michele Bachmann responds to Sikh Temple Shooting
My heart goes out to everyone affected by today’s tragic shooting in Wisconsin. The victims and their families are in my prayers.
— MicheleBachmann (@MicheleBachmann) August 5, 2012
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