Amardeep Kaleka, whose father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, the president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, was killed yesterday. (Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)
I’m sure you all know by now about this devastating news. After nearly a day of inquiries into the identification and motive of the shooter, Reuters reports that the shooter, Wade Michael Page, has been discovered to have been connected to racist groups:
The gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in southern Wisconsin was a former U.S. serviceman, a law enforcement official said on Monday, and a monitor of extremists said the shooter had links to racist groups.
[...] Wade had been a member of the racist skinhead band End Apathy, based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 2010, said Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama.
Wade also tried to buy goods from the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group, in 2000, she said.
“That’s all we know about Wade. We are still digging through our files,” she said.
This is as close as we can get right now to confirming suspicions that this was a hate crime, considering the extensive history in which the Sikh community has experienced hate-based violence in the U.S. over the past decade. But while new information unfolds about the motive behind the brutality of this act of terrorism, the loss of 6 lives and trauma of so many others who were in that temple yesterday, our thoughts are — above all — with the victim’s families and the Sikh community. Simran Jeet Singh wrote in HuffPo yesterday:
Considering the various challenges our communities have overcome, as well as my own experiences of growing up in Texas, I have no reason to believe that Sikh and American identities are mutually exclusive.
We share basic principles and values including a commitment to freedom, equality, and justice. Like countless other minority communities, Sikhs have fought through various forms of discrimination, have achieved success in different industries, and have become productive contributors to American society. The Sikh experience in the U.S. is quintessentially American, and as a society we have grown together. We each have our own experiences, yet we all share a similar story of struggle, sacrifice, and success.
The massacre in Wisconsin is an important part of this collective story.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated on further developments.