Gurudwara Shooting Sadly Part of a Series of Attacks on Sikhs in the USA Since September 11

By now, you’ve heard accounts of yesterday’s awful shooting in Wisconsin targeting Sikhs as they gathered in their Gurudwara for a community service.  The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the alleged shooter was part of a known network of white supremacist organizations. I suspect we will know more about the shooters motivations by the end of the day.

The shooting is yet another incident in a long line of abuses suffered by the American Sikh community in recent years. CNN has a depressingly long list of beatings, stabbings, and shootings of Sikh men since September 11, 2001. Most of the time, the attackers assumed the men were Muslim because they wore a Turban.

— September 15, 2001: An aircraft mechanic named Frank Roque guns down Balbir Singh 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 that 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 uttering, “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 is 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 was 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: In 2010, Harbhajan Singh, a Sikh cabdriver, is beaten by two passengers 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.

The Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath explores the bias and hate crimes committed against the American Sikh community after September 11th. It is as relevant as ever. Here’s the trailer:

I encourage people to visit the Sikh Coalition website today to learn how to push back against this kind of hate and intimidation.

Our thoughts are with the families of people affected by this tragedy.