Unity and Accountability in the Wake of the Wisconsin Gurudwara Shootings
The members of DRUM-Desis Rising Up & Moving express our deepest sympathy and solidarity with our sisters and brothers of the Sikh community after Sunday’s shootings in the Oak Creek Gurudwara in Wisconsin. The shootings have been followed closely by an arson that burned down a mosque in Joplin, Missouri.
While the shootings have shocked us all, it is unfortunately part of a history of targeting of communities of color that all too often goes unchecked and remains rooted in a national climate bolstered by state policies. This climate of racism and intolerance targeting Sikhs, South Asians, Muslims, Arabs, and Middle Easterners, particularly since 9/11, has been fueled by frequent media distortions, governmental policies of racial and religious profiling, and the rise in hate groups. Yet, the media and public discourse mistakenly puts the Sikh and other religions on the hot seat rather than the vast network of organized hate groups whose impacts have been severe-from attacks on Sikhs and Muslims to crafting of anti-people of color and anti-immigrant legislation like SB1070 in Arizona.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has stated that it had been monitoring the alleged gunman, Wade Michael Page, for over 10 years for his ties to white supremacist groups, attempts to purchase weapons from them, and use of violent lyrics about murdering Jews, black people, gay people, and other communities of color, through his membership in racist skinhead bands. Since the use of racial and religious profiling by law enforcement agencies focuses on identity as a marker of threat, rather than actual acts, (leading to the broad profiling of communities of color, religious minorities, and activist groups), organized white supremacist and hate groups remain largely unchecked. In 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a report on the dangers of right-wing extremism in the US, it received severe backlash from many conservative policy makers. As a result of the criticism, the DHS dismantled and cut funding for the intelligence team that monitored such threats. Continue reading