Tag Archives: hate crime

Open Thread: The Oak Creek Shooting

From the Journal Sentinel. Photo by Kyle Grillot.

Yet another tragedy this year, spurred on by yet another lone gunman with an agenda. This time, the shooter murdered six Sikhs in their house of worship. The New York Times reports:

In an attack that the police said they were treating as “a domestic terrorist-type incident,” the gunman stalked through the temple around 10:30 a.m. Congregants ran for shelter and barricaded themselves in bathrooms and prayer halls, where they made desperate phone calls and sent anguished texts pleading for help as confusion and fear took hold. Witnesses described a scene of chaos and carnage.

Here’s the statement from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund:

On Sunday, a horrific mass shooting took place at the Sikh gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, as members of the Sikh community were preparing for a peaceful religious gathering. It has been reported that a white male killed six people, and he was later killed himself after exchanging fire with a police officer.

AALDEF condemns this blatant act of terrorism against innocent people at a house of worship, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, the three continuing to fight for their lives in critical condition, and the entire Sikh community in Oak Creek, whose lives have been changed and feeling of safety shattered.

While details continue to emerge on this tragedy, the 700,000 Sikhs living in the United States have increasingly been victims of hate and discrimination. The media coverage following this tragedy, including CNN Network’s disturbing decision to distinguish Sikhs and Muslims, which implicitly suggested an attack on Muslims is within expectation, as well as the initial hesitation to call this an act of terrorism, show how severely intolerance and ignorance have been allowed to persist in our country, and the immediate need to stop it in all of its forms.

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel has more editorials, news, and updates.

Private Danny Chen, and why I will never again reach out to OWS about something that matters to me

By Guest Contributor Esther Choi, cross-posted from Some Thoughts …

I can’t stress enough that the following article only represents my opinions as an individual, and are not to be affiliated with any other person, organization or community.

December 15, 2011

Tonight was the march and vigil for Private Danny Chen, who was killed in the army on October 3, 2011. We don’t know how he died. The army is withholding all evidence, which it owes to the family, that could answer this question. What we do know is that he did not die in combat. We know he was constantly harassed and discriminated against by his fellow soldiers for being Chinese. We know some really twisted, violent hazing was committed against him by his superiors, right before he was found dead. We decided to hold a march and vigil because the army is currently carrying out an investigation, and we have to show them that the public is watching and that they cannot get away with another cover-up.

Just yesterday, board members of OCA-NY along with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Council Member Margaret Chin went to the Pentagon to meet with high-ranking army officials, where they made demands that may fundamentally transform the way that hazing and bias crimes are dealt with in the military. We need them to know that the public and the media are watching, and that if they do not meet our demands, we will redirect our campaign to focus on our young men and women who are thinking of enlisting. These young people need to know before they enlist, the Army will not protect them from harm by fellow soldiers.

Before the vigil, we reached out to many organizations to support, and 36 signed onto our cause. We also reached out to Occupy Wall Street because justice and government transparency are in its mission, and we thought we could use the numbers and networks in OWS to bring out more support for our vigil, and we also wanted to show our solidarity with OWS.

So imagine my surprise when protesters from OWS showed up with OWS signs, not to stand with others lining up for the march to Columbus Park in support, but to stand in front of everyone, trying to direct them. These people, who had not, until that very moment, put in one bit of effort into organizing this action, who had no idea what the plan was, who had no idea who we were or who the family was, decided that they were going to make this an OWS event.

Conflict erupted when one of the OWS-affiliated protesters came with a giant Communist Party of China flag. This white man decided that he was entitled to represent us, at this protest for an American soldier, with a flag that has been used by this country to vilify the Chinese American community. When people began asking him not to demonstrate that flag because it was not the purpose of the event and we were in no way representing China or political parties, he began screaming at us about how we were ANTI-COMMUNIST and trying to take away his first amendment rights. We told him that Danny Chen was an American soldier and we wanted to respect the family and their wishes, but he continued screaming violent accusations at us at the top of his lungs and disrupting the event, until one of Danny Chen’s family members, on the verge of tears, finally convinced him to leave. Continue reading

On Media Reform and Hate Speech

by Guest Contributor Hannah Miller

The media reform movement is an offshoot and part of the civil rights movement. It was born in 1963, when Dr. Martin Luther King and Rev. Everett Parker of the United Church of Christ initiated a lawsuit against white-owned TV stations in the South for consistently portraying African Americans in a racist manner, while refusing to show any coverage of the civil rights movement.

Because of their pressure, the FCC shut down a Mississippi TV station, stating that the power and influence that media companies have gives them the responsibility to operate with the broader public interest at heart – with special consideration given to oppressed minorities.

Since then, political pressure has been brought to bear against the FCC and Congress on a wide variety of issues: female and minority ownership of stations and publications, the dangers of consolidation of the media, the need to build public communications infrastructure like cable access stations or city-owned Internet networks, and the need for everyone to have broadband access.

The percentage of our time that the American public spends with media has been steadily climbing for 40 years, and with that, its influence over our lives. The media is our environment, and the battle I am engaged in is over the nature of this environment: whether it is an environment in which ordinary people have a voice – or whether we are to passively absorb content controlled by a small number of people and corporations. Whether the media is democratic, and reflects a variety of voices.

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Brutal Attack on Sikh Teen

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Last weekend in Queens, a young Sikh man was attacked and beaten so badly he may lose his left eye: Brutal Attack Has NYC Sikh Community In Uproar.

18-year-old Jasmir Singh was walking on the street early Sunday morning when he was approached by three men who demanded his money. Then they began to taunt him because of his turban, touching his hair and threatening to cut it. When he tried to run away, they beat him.

This appears to be hate crime, plain and simple. They targeted and taunted Singh because of his turban and beard — an important part of his Sikh faith. But the police and the Queens district attorney have simply classified it as a robbery and an assault. What’s up with that?

But here’s the part that kills me. That same night, police arrested two of the three suspects, described as “16-year-old Asian Pacific male and a 21-year-old Latino.” Ack. You freaking hateful idiots. That’s racist!

You’d think as people of color, as racial minorities, these two idiots would know what it’s like to be targeted and violated like this. Maybe they do. But I guess we know that ignorance and hate extends across all color. Police are still searching for the third suspect.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, Regarding Hate Crimes Against Latinos: “Oops. My Bad.”

by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published at Guanabee

You might recall our recent look at the murder of Long Island resident Marcelo Lucero and his community’s reaction to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation. Levy said the murder of Lucero was a “one-day story” that was receiving “undue” media coverage. Well, Levy has since apologized for those remarks:

“It was absolutely the wrong time for me to suggest that coverage of events in Suffolk is treated differently by the media,” Levy said in a letter to Newsday. “The horrible incident is indeed more than a one-day story. It was a reminder of how far we as a society still have to go.”

We understand that murderers commit murder, and that the seven teen boys charged with carrying out the actual beating and slaying of Lucero are the ones who most need to pay for their crime. But, while they are the ones who need to carry the bulk of the burden of culpability in this case, their guilt is shared by people like Steve Levy. Some people commit murder with bullets and blades, some do it with their words and examples. Steve Levy is not a murderer, but he worked to perpetuate a culture of murder, an allegation echoed by activist Tony Asion and Dean Kevin Johnson in their recent interview with NPR concerning hate crimes against Latinos.

The “one-day story” made its way into the New York Times. The NYT article quoted Levy as calling the seven murders “white supremacists.” Which, we think, is a step back. Continue reading

White supremacy by any other name

by guest contributor Kai Chang, originally published at Zuky

lige danielsWhen now-disgraced comedian Michael Richards screeched into his microphone “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass!” followed shortly by “He’s a n—-r! A n—-r, look, there’s a n—-r!” he was obviously attempting to drum up the vibe of a lynch mob closing in on its target. That’s some funny shit, eh?

Here’s how hilarious it is: To your left, Lige Daniels, lynched in Center, Texas, on August 3, 1920. To your right, Rubin Stacy, lynched in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 19, 1935. Here are but two among tens of millions of murders attributed to America’s long history of genocidal white supremacy.

As you can see, these are mirthful family affairs. The children are smiling innocently. The parents are proud and upstanding.

rubin stacyI guess this is Michael Richards’ comedic vision of America, and that of all those who are defending his invocation of the twisted pathology of sexualized white supremacist violence.

Yes, the n-word is “just a word”: a word that has historically led to scenes such as these. If you’re cool with such scenes, by all means continue supporting this word’s use by “edgy” white folks (you say “edgy”, I say “coward hiding in a mob”). You know why black folks “are allowed” to use the n-word (though it remains deeply controversial in the black community)? Here’s a hint: look at the pictures and see if you spot any black folks among the living. Okay I’ll fill you in: they’re the ones being murdered; white folks are the ones doing the murdering. Get it? In the context of the n-word’s countless unpunished crimes, black folks are not the accused.

“Just a word”: what a moronic defense. I suppose “war” is “just a word” as well — unless you happen to be among those getting bombed and shot. “I intend to kill you and your family” are just words too, but if someone were to say those words to me, my response would be very unwordy. I think it’s bizarre that middle-class American liberals appear to have become so comfortably, mentally astral that they believe that language and reality are somehow disconnected; as though words and thoughts are powerless postmodern playthings that have no consequences in the real world; as though every actual atrocity in human history didn’t begin with “just a word”.

Michael Richards and his ruined career are not the point here. The point is that if we’re ever to move beyond our current racial strife, we need to begin with enough intellectual honesty to acknowledge and understand America’s glaring legacy of white supremacy. As this popular comedian’s tirade shows, that legacy is alive and kicking in the American psyche. Shrugging it off as a “politically incorrect” use of an insensitive “racial epithet”, or as some mysterious “hostility” that bubbled up out of nowhere, demonstrates a profound ignorance and denial of this country’s past and present. And as long as such ignorance and denial dominate our national discourse, we will remain unable to accurately and meaningfully talk about, think about, and transcend the blood-soaked, heavy-hearted legacy of the American Color Line.

Time machine: October 2005

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Here’s another installment of our Time Machine series… when we take a look back at what we were blogging about a year ago this month.

Terrence Howard’s real-life “Crash” moment

crashWhen Oprah interviewed the cast of Crash, she asked each person to tell their own “real-life Crash moment.” No, not a moment in which they were embroiled in a completely unrealistic situation with two-dimensional Asian caricatures and absurd dialogue, but a moment in which they personally experienced the effects of racism.

Terrence Howard told the story of how his father got into a fight that ultimately put him in jail and landed his family in poverty. But according to some of the comments that were left in response to our post, some believe he took a bit of artistic license in his interpretation of the story. Here’s the beginning of Terrence’s story:

“I’m the product of a mixed marriage: My father’s actually mixed and my mother is mixed but my father looks more white than my mom,” Terrence explains. “We’re at a department store in 1972, right before Christmas, and my mom’s taking us all around to go get clothes and my dad’s standing in the Santa Claus line. … My dad is 5-foot-8, weighs 125 pounds. There’s a guy standing behind him [who is] 6′-4″, weighs about 260. The man said, ‘Why did you let those niggers cut you?’ And my daddy said, ‘This is my wife.’ … The man turned around and my father turned back to talk to us…

National survey on interracial relationships leaves out Asians

yellow missing piece of the puzzleAsians? What are those? I guess we were all too busy getting good grades and doing kung fu to take time to talk to The Gallup Poll about interracial relationships:

The Gallup Poll published their findings from their annual Minority Rights and Relations poll. Part of the survey questioned Americans on how they feel about interracial relationships — specifically between blacks and whites. Not surprisingly, they didn’t bother to survey people’s attitudes on any other couple configurations! :| Next, they surveyed people on their own dating trends. Apparently, Asians and Native Americans (if we are going by the usual 5 category “racial” breakdown) are not important enough to figure into any of this. The survey asked white, latino and black correspondents whether or not they had ever dated other races, including Asian, interestingly enough. But then Asians were not included in the questioning at all. Strange to say the least.

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