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June 18, 2013

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

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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August 8, 2012

Girlfriend of Suspected Sikh Temple Shooter Arrested

On Tuesday, authorities investigating the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting arrested the former girlfriend of Wade Page, the suspected shooter, on a weapons charge. Misty Cook (whose formal name may be Brenda Misty Cook), 31, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after police allegedly found a weapon in the house she shared with Page.

Misty Cook (on right) with Volksfront members, circa 2007-2008

According to court records, Cook had a felony conviction in 2005 for fleeing and eluding police in Milwaukee County. She received a sentence of 18 months’ probation and served 97 days in jail. Cook was not involved in the deadly shooting, but like Page, was a white supremacist.

Cook’s connections to the white supremacist movement date back a number of years. According to a posting she made on April 18, 2012, to an on-line forum for supporters of the Hammerskins, a racist skinhead group, she “heard Pastor Butler speak 8 years ago and it was very inspiring.”  “Pastor Butler” is Richard Butler, the deceased founder of the notorious neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations. 

In the mid-2000s, Cook had a strong association with the hardcore white supremacist group Volksfront, which has a presence in the Chicago area, where she lived at the time. A Volksfront spokesperson even admitted to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that she had dated several Volksfront members. However, for unknown reasons, she broke with that group around 2008.

By 2009, she had become an active supporter of the Hammerskins, joining Crew 38. Like other hardcore racist skinhead groups, the Hammerskins do not allow women to become members.  Crew 38 (the 38 stands for “Crossed Hammers”) is a “support group” they started for women, hangers-on, and people who wished to become Hammerskins someday.

Cook posted frequently to the Crew 38 site, authoring over 850 messages in a three-year period. In many postings, Cook expressed support for the Hammerskins, stating in one post, for example, “I have a lot of respect for what the Hammers do. I just tend to enjoy brothers who are local and I see them all the time.” On her screen avatar for that forum, she identifies herself as “Crew38 Wisconsin.”

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