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July 31, 2013 0

Remembering the Hate Crime Victims at Oak Creek – And Acting

Update — August 5, 2013: ADL has joined a coali­tion of groups urg­ing the White House to also take steps to address religious-based vio­lence and discrimination.

On August 5, 2012, six Sikh wor­ship­pers were killed, and four oth­ers wounded, by a white suprema­cist skin­head at their Gur­d­wara in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin.  The shooter then turned his gun on him­self.  Less than a week after the tragedy, US Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder. Jr.  par­tic­i­pated in a memo­r­ial ser­vice for the vic­tims, stat­ing that the crime was “an act of ter­ror­ism, an act of hatred, a hate crime.”  sikh-temple-shooting-oak-creek-anniversary

Now, one year later, we observe the anniver­sary of this tragedy, hon­or­ing the mem­ory of the vic­tims by ele­vat­ing the fight against dis­crim­i­na­tion and hate crimes – and by work­ing to ensure that all places of wor­ship will be safe.

In the after­math of the Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 ter­ror­ist attacks, our nation has expe­ri­enced a dis­turb­ing num­ber of back­lash attacks against Mus­lim, Sikhs, Arabs, and South Asians.  In fact, the first bias-motivated mur­der after 9/11 was Bal­bir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas sta­tion owner in Mesa, Arizona. 

After the Oak Creek Gur­d­wara mur­ders, ADL Chicago/Upper Mid­west Regional Office Direc­tor Lon­nie Nasatir par­tic­i­pated in a pro­gram in Oak Creek with the US Attor­ney and FBI offi­cials to show sup­port for the com­mu­nity and ADL pro­fes­sion­als across the coun­try reached out to Sikh orga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide resources on how to keep their com­mu­nity insti­tu­tions safe.

ADL has been the national leader in pro­mot­ing improved hate crime data col­lec­tion by law enforce­ment author­i­ties.  Since 2008, the League has sup­ported requir­ing the FBI to col­lect and report spe­cific data on hate crimes directed against Sikhs, Arabs, and Hindus.  

The mur­ders at Oak Creek pro­vided addi­tional impe­tus to make this change.  And the issue was exam­ined and pro­moted in Sep­tem­ber 19 Sen­ate Judi­ciary Sub­com­mit­tee on the Con­sti­tu­tion, Civil Rights and Human Rights hear­ings on “Hate Crime and the Threat of Domes­tic Extrem­ism,” to which the League sub­mit­ted com­pre­hen­sive tes­ti­mony. 

Work­ing with Con­gres­sional cham­pi­ons, like Rep. Joseph Crow­ley, the League helped to coor­di­nate a coali­tion effort to urge the FBI to include these new hate crime data cat­e­gories as part of the Bureau’s annual hate crime report pre­pared under the 1990 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act.   In May, an FBI Advi­sory Pol­icy Board rec­om­mended that the Bureau take this action.  

As we com­mem­o­rate the first anniver­sary of the tragedy at Oak Creek, we can take some solace in know­ing that our com­mu­ni­ties have done some­thing pos­i­tive to address that hor­rific inci­dent.  Col­lect­ing spe­cific data on hate crimes directed against indi­vid­u­als will increase pub­lic aware­ness, encour­age vic­tims to report these crimes, and expand exist­ing engage­ment and rela­tion­ships between law enforce­ment author­i­ties and these com­mu­ni­ties. ADL has joined a coali­tion of groups urg­ing the White House to also take steps to address religious-based vio­lence and discrimination. 

Our atten­tion now turns to work­ing with the FBI and local law enforce­ment offi­cials to pro­vide train­ing and edu­ca­tion on these crimes.

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June 18, 2013 0

FBI Will Collect And Report Hate Crimes Directed Against Sikhs, Arabs And Hindus

Ear­lier this month, an FBI Advi­sory Pol­icy Board (APB) rec­om­mended that the Bureau sep­a­rately col­lect and report hate crimes directed against Sikhs, Arabs, and Hin­dus as part of its annual national data col­lec­tion pro­gram man­dated by the Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act of 1990 (HCSA).  sikh-hate-crime

The Anti-Defamation League wel­comed the deci­sion. The League had sup­ported col­lect­ing these sep­a­rate cat­e­gories since 2008 – and had pro­moted the action in an August 2012 let­ter to Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder, Jr. and in com­pre­hen­sive tes­ti­mony to the Sen­ate Judi­ciary Com­mit­tee in Sep­tem­ber, 2012.  And, in May, the League coor­di­nated a let­ter to APB mem­bers from 79 national civil rights, reli­gious, edu­ca­tion, civic, and pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions urg­ing this action. 

In the imme­di­ate after­math of the Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 ter­ror­ist attacks, the nation wit­nessed an increase in attacks against Amer­i­cans who appeared to be of Mus­lim, Arab, Mid­dle East­ern, and South Asian descent. The tragic bias-motivated mur­ders of six Sikh wor­ship­pers at their Gur­d­wara in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin last August is one of the most recent examples.

Sadly, there is sub­stan­tial evi­dence that these com­mu­ni­ties have been tar­geted for vio­lence and van­dal­ism because of their reli­gious prac­tices, appear­ance, and apparel – includ­ing dis­tinc­tive beards, tur­bans, tra­di­tional fore­head art, or head coverings.

ADL will now work with FBI and the Depart­ment of Jus­tice to update their HCSA train­ing man­ual and to work with the affected com­mu­ni­ties to pro­vide edu­ca­tion, train­ing, and out­reach for law enforce­ment offi­cials about these crimes.

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August 14, 2012 0

White Supremacists React to Sikh Temple Shootings

Since the Sikh tem­ple shoot­ing in Wis­con­sin on August 5, reac­tions from Amer­i­can white suprema­cists have var­ied widely, from deplor­ing the shoot­ings to prais­ing the shooter, Wade Michael Page.

Early responses occurred before white suprema­cists learned the shooter was a long-time white suprema­cist.  Many reac­tions expressed con­cern that the mass shoot­ing would prompt calls for gun con­trol. Oth­ers were unhappy with the tar­get.  “I have to say that Sikhs are the least objec­tion­able non-White immi­grant group in North Amer­ica by far!!” wrote one poster on the white suprema­cist dis­cus­sion forum Storm­front.   Another Storm­fron­ter agreed:  “There’s so many legit­i­mate ene­mies, it’s just so stu­pid to pick Sikhs.”  A poster to the Van­guard News Net­work (VNN) asked, “Why get focused on Sikhs?  Just weird.  Very spe­cific turd in a giant sewer…Our worst ene­mies are jews and white trai­tors.  If you aren’t fight­ing them, you just aren’t living.”

Oth­ers made crude jokes, as did this Storm­fron­ter from Wis­con­sin:  “In a related story, sev­eral gas sta­tions and con­ve­nience stores in the Mil­wau­kee area have put out Help Wanted signs.”

Soon, how­ever, white suprema­cists learned of Page’s extrem­ist past, prompt­ing a gen­eral attempt at dis­tanc­ing them­selves.  Some claimed the shoot­ing was not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of white suprema­cists.  Oth­ers thought it was poor tar­get­ing.  “He…never learned the cru­cial les­son,” posted one Storm­fron­ter.  “Don’t attack the symp­toms, attack the cause.”  A VNN poster opined that “I don’t mind the mas­sacres so much as the sheer idiocy of those doing the shoot­ing, the ran­dom thought­less­ness of their tar­gets.  If they are going to go out in a blaze of glory then they should at least attempt to select more polit­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant tar­gets instead of mean­ing­less indi­vid­u­als.”  Many expressed fear of a back­lash against the white suprema­cist movement.

Oth­ers, how­ever, thought of Page as a mar­tyr to the cause.  “See you in Val­halla, brother,” posted Zach But­ler, a North Car­olina white suprema­cist, to his Face­book pro­file.  One Orange County based white power music band, Armed and Ready, posted to its Face­book page:  “R.I.P. Brother Wade, out with a whim­per or out with a bang, it’s your choice.”

These sorts of sen­ti­ments appeared espe­cially pop­u­lar among mem­bers and sup­port­ers of the Ham­mer­skins, the large racist skin­head group of which Page was a mem­ber.   “For Wade, the fight goes on,” posted one Idaho Ham­mer­skin to Face­book.  “R.I.P. brother, you’ll be missed!” wrote another.  “RIP, Wade, U were one hell of a white patriot,” posted Robert Kopko, a Florida Ham­mer­skin.  Sev­eral days later, he announced that he was “gonna go out with some broth­ers an[d] have a cou­ple drinks for a fallen patriot.”  Another Florida Ham­mer­skin wrote that “I miss my good friend WADE!  HAIL WADE!!”

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