Monday, August 6, 2012



The “USA Today” of August 7,2012, has reported as follows: “Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents, which advocates blame on anti-Islamic sentiment. Sikhs don't practice the same religion as Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say…..But the turban also attracts violence to individuals and their places of worship. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, four drunk teenagers set fire to the Gobind Sadan, a Sikh house of worship in Hastings, N.Y.”

2. From a study of the reports published in the US media, it would appear that since 9/11, there have been two attacks on Sikh places of worship in the US. The first was the arson attack by some drunk teenagers in Hastings, N.Y, which apparently did not lead to any casualties and the second  the attack with a hand gun on a group of Sikhs who had gathered inside a gurudwara in Oak Creek in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin on August 5,2012, which led to the death of six Sikhs, four of them turbaned priests. Among those killed was the founding-President of the Gurudwara, 65-year-old Satwant Singh Kaleka.

3. One of those present in the gurudwara told the CNN in an interview that the gunman appeared to be specifically targeting bearded, turbaned members of the congregation and not those who were clean shaven. He first killed two Sikhs in the parking lot outside the gurudwara, then shot dead four more inside, exited and seriously injured two police officers who had rushed to the gurudwara. He also injured one other Sikh, but it is not known whether he injured him inside or outside the gurudwara. The gunman was ultimately shot dead by one of the police officers.

4. The gunman used a 9 mm hand gun for the killing. From a study of the reports in the US media, he does not appear to have indulged in indiscriminate firing. If it was indiscriminate firing, there would have been more injured people. It was targeted firing directed at Sikhs with beard and turban.

5. Speaking to the media, Teresa Carlson, FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, said the "motive is still being assessed at this time," but the shooting is being investigated as domestic terrorism. The FBI defines terrorism as violence used to coerce a government or civilian population to advance political or social objectives.

6.Paul Bresson,an FBI spokesman, told the media: "We're looking at hate crime as a possibility. You have a shooting that took place in a house of worship. This was not just a random thing. There's a feeling that this was somehow thought out and targeted."

7. By the evening of August 6, the gunman was identified as Wade Michael Page, aged 40, originally of Colorado and now living in Wisconsin. According to Lt.Col.Laurel Devine of the Public Affairs Division of the US Army, Page joined the Army in 1992 and was discharged at the rank of specialist in 1998. He specialised in psychological operations. He was posted at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He received several awards, including five achievement medals, two good conduct medals and a parachutist badge.

8.In a press statement, Page has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a non-governmental organisation which maintains a data base of white extremists,  as "a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band." The centre, which reportedly has a database of more than 20,000 people it has identified as white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other members of hate groups, said Page figured in its data base since 2000.

9. According to Heidi Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2000, Page came to its notice for the first time when he tried to purchase unidentified materials from National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group that influenced Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. He was subsequently noticed associating himself with some music groups that propagated “hate music”. Among such groups were two called  Youngland and  End Apathy.

10. According to her, Page used to write for a white supremacist website called Storm Front under the name of Youngland. His groups played at music festivals meant for white supremacists, skinheads and neo-Nazis. His band played in a festival called Uprise in 2010 and he attended other festivals including Hammerfest, one of the largest festivals. She said that the number of hate groups operating in the US has increased since Barack Obama was elected President in 2008.The number of hate groups identified by her organisation has gone up from 602 in 2000 to 1018 last year.

11. The “USA Today” has quoted Beirich as identifying five  White  extremists figuring in the database of her Centre as having taken to violence. Apart from Page, these are: James Von Brunn who died after shooting and killing a black security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 2009 in Washington, D.C.; Richard Poplawski who was convicted of shooting and killing three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009; Keith Luke accused of killing two people and raping and shooting a third in a shooting spree in Brockton, Mass., in 2009; and Kevin Harpham, an Army veteran convicted of planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane last year.

12. In an interview in April 2010, Page said he started his band End Apathy in 2005 out of frustration that "we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole." He added: "The concept was based on trying to figure out what it would take to actually accomplish positive results in society and what is holding us back. A lot of what I realized at the time was that if we could figure out how to end people's apathetic ways, it would be the start toward moving forward. Of course after that it requires discipline, strict discipline to stay the course in our sick society."

13. According to Marc Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League as quoted by “USA Today”, Page also was a member of the Hammerskins, "one of the oldest hard-core racist groups" in the country. The music groups with which he was associated, were affiliated with the Hammerskins.

14.The “USA Today” quotes Pitcavage as stating as follows: “Page had a number of tattoos identifying him as a skinhead and neo-Nazi. There was a tattoo of a cog that included the number 838, which means "Hail the crossed hammers," a skinhead slogan. There also was a tattoo of a Celtic cross with the number 14, a reference to the 14-word white supremacist slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." He also had a tattoo of a totenkopf, a death's head or skull, which is a neo-Nazi symbol that shows allegiance to the white supremacist movement.”

15. Analysts in US media attribute the increase in the number of White extremist hate groups to the following factors. Firstly, the propaganda carried on by White extremists that by 2040 immigrants from Latin America will constitute the majority of the US population. Secondly, the belief of the White extremists that an increase in the vote bank of the Blacks and other minorities contributed to the victory of Obama in the Presidential election. Thirdly,  unemployment. Economic distress adds to the anti-minority anger of the White extremists.

16.What has been the contribution of the post-9/11 anti-Muslim suspicions and prejudices to the growth of hate groups? This has not been adequately analysed though this too must be a factor. The increase in hate crime  against the Sikhs could be attributed partly to economic and partly to religious factors. The economic factor being jealousy over the prosperity achieved by them. The religious factor is the inability of sections of the population----even people not identified with White extremists--- to distinguish the Sikhs from the Muslims and Sikhism from Islam.

17. Initial reports of the attack spoke of the possibility of there being more than one perpetrator. Now, the police seem to believe that there was only one. Was it a lone wolf attack self-motivated or was it an attack motivated by an organisation or group spreading hatred against Sikhs? The indications till now are that it was probably a self-motivated lone wolf attack.

18.If the observations of a clean-shaven Sikh who was interviewed by the CNN that  Page seemed to be targeting turbaned Sikhs are correct, there would be a greater possibility of the attack being due to religious bias than economic anger.

19.The FBI Special agent Teresa Carlson said: “We are looking at ties to white supremacy groups. Page had contact with law enforcement in the past and was in FBI files, but the FBI had no reason to believe he was planning an attack.” It needs to be added that most of the details carried by the US media regarding Page’s links with White extremist groups as mentioned above have come from non-governmental research groups monitoring white extremist activities and not from the police. The CBS TV channel, citing unnamed sources, said evidence suggested race or ethnicity might have played a role in the violence, but it added  no links to extremist groups have been confirmed.

20. The Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee  reported that Page apparently worked as a truck driver with Granger, Iowa-based Barr-Nunn Transportation, from about April 2006 to August 2010 while living in Fayetteville, N.C. An employee at the company reportedly told the newspaper that Page left "involuntarily" but declined to elaborate. The only criminal information it had on Page was one of issuing a  check in October 1997 which bounced, it said.

21.The incident has  not revived the debate on the need for effective gun control in the US. Many States allow unrestricted open carriage of guns. Some States do impose restrictions on concealed carriage, However, it is so easy to buy and possess guns without effective background checks. A gun is seen as a weapon of self-defence and political leaders do not want to impose controls on the right to protect oneself by acquiring a gun. The argument that many of the guns are used not for self-defence, but for killing others in anger or hatred or in outbursts of irrationality has not made much of an impact either on large sections of the political class or on the pro-gun lobby. It is futile to expect that the massacre of the Sikhs could have any impact on the debate on this subject.

22.The Sikh community, which was already concerned over the spate of hate attacks on individual Sikhs like taxi-drivers, gas station attendants etc since 9/11, will be even more concerned over this attack on a congregation of Sikhs in a Gurudwara resulting in multiple fatalities. There are already reports of unhappiness among members of the Sikh community in the US over what they view as the apathy of the authorities of the two countries in the light of continuing attacks on individual Sikhs and their failure to protect them.

23. The police may have difficulty in protecting individual Sikhs subject to surprise attacks in public places, but the Sikhs will not be able to understand the inability of the Police to protect them when they are in groups  in places like gurudwaras. There are already suggestions for increased police patrolling of areas where gurudwaras are located. Posting of static guards in such places where Sikhs gather for prayers and other religious and social occasions should be possible. It is estimated that there are about 120 gurudwaras and other Sikh places of worship in the  US. Providing them effective protection should be possible. The Government of India should take this up with the US authorities.

24. It is also necessary for the Sikh community to interact frequently with non-Sikh communities, particularly Whites, in the US in order to remove wrong perceptions regarding Sikhism as a religion and the Sikhs as a community. ( 7-8-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )


Sikh Temple of Wisconsin shooting: as it happened

By Emily Eggleston and Allan James Vestal / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  1. At least seven people were killed, including one shooter, just after 10 a.m. Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, police said.

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage of the shooting is at Follow @NewsHub on Twitter for continuing updates.

    Follow the story as it unfolded through photos and Twitter updates from people at the scene and in the area.
  2. mkescan
    Report of Officer down in Oak Creek. Active shooter.
  3. wiatweets
    [WIA] Oak Creek Shooting Report of Officer down & 3 to 4 victims. Active shooter on scene. Mutual aid from several PD's. --
  4. _Val_K
    Sirens like crazy here in Oak Creek @mkescan
  5. DanODwtmj
    BREAKING NEWS: Reports of shots fired and officer down at Seik Temple in Oak Creek
  6. NewsHub
    We are getting reports that 4 people were shot at Sikh Temple, 7512 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek. Police not giving out any information yet.
  7. DanODwtmj
    Scanner reports indicate Oak Creek Police cannot find shooter at Sikh Temple--crew on scene says it is "chaos"
  8. Muxywithmoxie
    "Something crazy is happening at the Islamic center on Howell ave in Oak Creek - we just saw cops running in with assault rifles." ???
  9. Muxywithmoxie
    "The shooter is still on the loose in oak creek. Stay inside please." -Friends in the area.
  10. KHansen1724
    @Muxywithmoxie please clarify if you can. Sikh and Muslim are not the same. I have friends at the Islamic center. It's not in oak creek
  11. Muxywithmoxie
    My friend who told me about the shooting did not mean to mix up "Sikh" & "Islamic" & she feels bad. She's very pregnant & was in the moment.
  12. dispatchdemon
    Officer down! ‎ CREEK, WI(MILWAUKEE): A BOX ALARM ON LIFE SAFETY BOX #18-23 @7512 S (cont)
  13. L0gg0l
    Oak Creek shooting: SWAT-Team and K9 requested, suspect may be a heavy build white male -- scanner
  14. dispatchdemon
    Oak Creek, WI - I cannot believe another mass shooting. This time at the Sikh Temple. Live PD audio:
  15. NewsHub
    Sikh Temple shooting story is here: Check back frequently for updates
  16. NewsHub
    @WISN12News @DanODwtmj @620wtmj @fox6now Use #templeshooting hashtag for Sikh updates? Other suggestions welcome. Please pass this on.
  17. HerzogJS
    #sikhtemple Head priest locked inside bathroom with cell phone as an estimated 20 to 30 victims in temple. Ambulances waiting
  18. NewsHub
    A person living near the Sikh Temple says he is hearing lots of sirens heading toward the shooting location. #templeshooting
  19. dispatchdemon
    #OAKCREEK RT @wia: Oak Creek Update: 2 confirmed fatalities in lot. Getting "Bearcat" to remove victims from building.
  20. NewsHub
    RT @ParkyPundit:CNN just reported area hospitals told to prepare for 8-20 vics. No word on severity. #templeshooting
  21. AJBayatpour
    Anxious family members waiting to hear from relatives
  22. HerzogJS
    #sikhtemple SWAT team preparing to go inside temple now. Children hostages in basement
  23. NewsHub
    Reports now suggest as many as 20 to 30 people may have been shot at Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. #templeshooting
  24. NewsHub
    Brookfield police rushing to Sikh Temple in their city as a precaution after shootings at Oak Creek temple. #templeshooting
  25. AJBayatpour
    There are two Sikh Temples in Milwaukee area. The other is in Brookfield. Note this is a temple, not a mosque.
  26. NewsHub
    More details staring to emerge of shootings at Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. SWAT team entered the building.
  27. NewsHub
    Reports vary on the number of gunman in Sikh shooting in Oak Creek. One report says one; a second report says multiple. #templeshooting
  28. NewsHub
    Police asking media to not broadcast any photo, video or tactical developments at temple. #templeshooting
  29. JasonTHowell
    RT @davidatkwqc: Photo of the scene of the #templeshooting at #Sikh temple in #OakCreek from Milwaukee's WTMJ 620 AM.
  30. dispatchdemon
    RT @js_watchdog: Authorities: Police engaged shooter on scene. Officer shot multiple times. Shooter is down. #templeshooting
  31. dispatchdemon
    Wounded Officer has been trans & expected to survive. Susp who was shot remains "down" at the scene. via Press Conference #templeshooting
  32. PWeiskel08
    I guess mass shootings of people who aren't white aren't important enough to interrupt the #olympics #templeshooting
  33. NMenonRao
    Extremely tragic shootings at Wisconsin.Embassy seized of situation. In touch with NSC at White House. CG Chicago deputing official to spot.
  34. NewsHub
    Our latest update on Sikh temple shootings. SWAT team still sweeping Oak Creek temple. #templeshooting
  35. NewsHub
    3 victims of #templeshooting being treated at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. All are adult males. All suffered gunshot wounds.
  36. NewsHub
    RT @john_diedrich: FBI-led local Joint Terrorism Task Force on scene of #templeshooting; Oak Creek PD taking lead for now, but feds...
  37. amberleamoody
    My heart hurts 4 my city &the fams. Very poignant photo just in: Line of ambulaces outside Sikh temple in #OakCreek.
  38. kylemaichle52
    One of the photos from where #templeshooting victims situated in Oak Creek, WI. #wiright
  39. Rachelle_Fox
    Another day, another killing spree in the #US. When will the madness end? #templeshooting
  40. NMenonRao
    Our hearts bleed for precious & innocent lives lost in Oak Creek.This is a very tragic time for our community. We must maintain calm.
  41. NewsHub
    Latest in #templeshooting. 7 presumed dead, including gunman. Oak Creek officer being treated for wounds. Still fluid situation
  42. Ddub_Soldier_1
    A view from the air. The Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI. #templeshooting #TMJ4
  43. AnupKaphle
    PHOTO: A family member waits to hear information about his loved ones inside the Sikh Temple. #templeshooting
  44. NewsHub
    Oak Creek officer who was shot is a 20-year veteran with expertise in tactical incidents. He exchanged gunfire with gunman. #templeshooting
  45. kylemaichle52
    Two Milw. CO. Transit buses show up to pick up hostages of #templeshooting at bowling alley #wiright
  46. NewsHub
    Good timeline of #templeshooting put together by Reddit
  47. csdickey
  48. jianghomeshi
    It's both interesting and disturbing that CNN keeps feeling the need to point out that Sikhs are not Muslims. #templeshooting
  49. Rachelle_Fox
    Perpetrator of the Oak Creek #templeshooting has not been identified, neither has motive. Comments and reporting should reflect this.
  50. JohnAxford
    Please keep all the people at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in your thoughts today! Terrible terrible news.
  51. sikhactivist
    Fellow Tweeters report: "Witnesses speakin out- the first person dead was a 10 yr old kid" in Sikh Temple #TempleShooting
  52. NewsHub
    Gov. Walker statement talks of "struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence." #templeshooting
  53. NewsHub
    NYPD tells @wcbs880 that its stepping up patrols of Sikh temples in NYC area. #templeshooting
  54. NewsHub
    White House official says president told of shooting shortly before 1 p.m. by John Brennan, his Homeland Security advisor. #templeshooting
  55. cschweitz
    "What did we do wrong? Was this a mad man? Did he hate us for our appearance?" asks bystander at #templeshooting
  56. BuntyBains
    RT @Kbsingh7: RT @GormoJourno: Here's a picture of the crowd outside the #templeshooting from the Oak Creek Patch
  57. Le_Tweeter
    RT @UPI: Photo of #templeshooting scene from Mike De Sisti of Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal (@Newshub)
  58. HolaBrody
    Harrowing @newshub photo of a family member praying in a parking lot while waiting to hear info on #templeshooting:
  59. wiartteacher
    “@NewsHub: An interactive map of mass shootings in the U.S. can be found here: #templeshooting
  60. MissPronouncer
    @NewsHub points out today's killings mark 4th mass murder in Wisconsin since 2004:
  61. cnnbrk
    Seven people killed, including gunman, in shooting at Sikh temple, police say.
  62. hinabob
    Praying for those loved ones lost & suffering. Hate solves nothing. #templeshooting xx
  63. SinghLions
    A woman awaits word on Shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Photograph: Jeffrey Phelps #templeshooting
  64. lashea32
    Prayin for the victims of the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting
  65. NewsHub
    Hotline set up for Sikh members seeking information about their family: (888) 298-1964. #templeshooting
  66. steph_alanis
    Mass shooting at Sikh temple: At least seven dead and dozens injured after gunman… #MailOnline
  67. destatter
    @NewsHub #templeshooting Oak Creek Police Chief: "treating this as domestic terrorism case"
  68. NewsHub
    Sikh Temple remains a crime scene, Oak Creek chief says. SWAT team still inside. #templeshooting
  69. sikhactivist
    Police provide phone number: (888) 298-1964 for family and friends of victims only, who need more information about the #TempleShooting
  70. XL_Radio
    Press conference: Sikh #templeshooting - "everyone has been evacuated from the building"
  71. DanODwtmj
    Mayor: City of Oak Creek is outraged by the #templeshooting but grateful for heroic actions of officers
  72. NewsHub
    Sikh temple update: 7 dead, including gunman. Three injured, including Oak Creek officer, who is expected to survive. #templeshooting
  73. NewsHub
    Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards says there are "weapons on scene," but doesn't elaborate. #templeshooting
  74. js_watchdog
    Authorities searching home in Cudahy. Neighbors say ATF, Milw Co Sheriff among them, several streets blocked off. #templeshooting
  75. NewsHub
    @AC360, aka Anderson Cooper, Tweets he is headed to Wisconsin for his show on Monday. #templeshooting
  76. NewsHub
    RT @mdesisti: FBI Evidence Response team on the scene in Cudahy with serious equipment. #templeshooting
  77. patricksplace
    RT @abc7newsBayArea: Police in Wisconsin say Sikh temple shooting suspect 'ambushed' an officer tending to a victim.
  78. ikKy101
    No place is safe anymore if you can't even be at peace whilst doing your prayers :/ #templeshooting #sadtimes
  79. sikhactivist
    Sikh Temple Chairman, says few suspicious men were seen on Temple premises yesterday. #TempleShooting
  80. DhanTamber
    RT @trenni: Saddened & sickened by shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek. Met many Sikh’s in India. Kind ppl who aim for tolerance & social justice.
  81. sikhactivist
    Members of Muslim community are on their way to support victims of Sikh Temple Massacre. #TempleShooting
  82. emmajp24
    RT @AP: Police evacuate homes in Milwaukee suburb north of Sikh temple where gunman killed 6 before being shot dead: -RJJ
  83. DonWalkerJS
    RT @js_photo: We're about 300 yds. from home in question related to #templeshooting. You need these to see anything.
  84. Wonam6
    RT @MiMiopoly: RT @NewsHub: Woman in Cudahy neighborhood where FBI is searching a duplex says residence had been vacant until recently. #templeshooting
  85. NewsHub
    The Journal Sentinel has created a separate page pulling together all of the coverage from today's #templeshooting
  86. hayleytenpas
    A peaceful vigil has organized at the Capitol in support of those affected by the Temple shooting in Oak Creek.