In response to the tragic mass shooting yesterday at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin by a man believed to be a white supremacist, BuzzFeed has compiled a timeline of anti-Sikh violence in the United States since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Sikhs, members of a religion rooted in India who are neither Hindu nor Muslim, became targets of hate crimes almost immediately after 9/11, along with Muslims. The turbans worn by Sikh men make them stand out and, for those not familiar with the difference, have led anti-Muslim attackers to target them by mistake.
The list is incomplete. It does not, for example, include the fatal shooting of two elderly Sikh men, Gurmej Atwal and Surinder Singh, shot down last year by an unidentified attacker with no other apparent motive as they strolled through a suburban neighborhood of Sacramento. Still, the timeline is a sad memento to all of those who have been killed or harmed.
Details are still emerging about the shooter, Wade Michael Page, who entered the temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin yesterday and fatally shot six people ranging in age from 39 to 84, before he was killed by police. He was later identified as an Army veteran; the Southern Poverty Law Center has also identified him as a white supremacist who once led a white-power band.
From the BuzzFeed list, the stories of a couple of early post/911 Sikh victims:
September 15, 2001 – Mesa, Arizona
49-year-old gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi was fatally shot. Frank Silva Roque, the shooter, mistakenly believed Sodhi was Muslim because of the clothes he wore, his turban, and his beard. Within 25 minutes of his death, the Phoenix police reported four further attacks on people who either were Middle Easterners or who dressed with clothes thought to be worn by Middle Easterners. Frank Silva Roque was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty, but the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the sentence for life in prison, citing an extremely low IQ and mental illness. On August 4, 2002, Balbir's brother Sukhpal was shot to death while driving a cab in San Francisco. It did appear that his shooting was an accident — a stray bullet from a nearby gang fight. Balbir's son, Sukhwinder, was asked about the second tragedy and said "What are you going to do with anger? We like peace and we are a peaceful people."
Dec 12, 2001 – Los Angeles, California
47-year-old Surinder Singh Sidhi was beaten by two men who entered his store, accused him of being Osama bin Laden, and beat him with metal poles. They said, "We'll kill bin Laden today," then hit him over twenty times with the poles. "The crime was regrettable but not surprising," Kirtan-Singh Khalsa, spokesman for the Khalsa Council, an international council for Sikh affairs, said. "We're deeply concerned by this event. But we are not shocked. Sikhs are accustomed to ridicule because of wearing turbans."
The entire list can be viewed here.
(Via Angry Asian Man)