Wisconsin shooting at Sikh temple illustrates growth of hate groups in the US
The shooting, which occurred a mere 16 days after the Colorado shooting at a movie premiere, illustrates a growing culture of violence within the US.
August 13, 2012, 16:10 EST
On Sunday, August 5, 2012, when a gunman walked into a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he shot seven people, killing six of them. The gun-man then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Wade Michael Page, a 40-year old Army veteran, has been linked to several white supremacy groups, raising the troubling specter of hate crime in the US anew.
Page had extensive links with the white supremacy movement in the US. Two neighbors of Page identified him in photos that showed him playing in the far-right punk band "End Apathy," and the nephew of the slain president of the Sikh temple said the attacker had a 9/11 tattoo on his arm.
Page’s friend from the Army, Christopher Robillard, noted that the attacker had talked about “racial holy war” when they had served together in the 1990s. While he declared that Page didn’t seem like the kind of person to hurt anyone, he noted that when Page started ranting "it would be about mostly any non-white person." Page’s ex-girlfriend, Misty Cook, who works two blocks from the Sikh temple, has also been linked to white supremacist groups.
The shooting has deeply scarred the American Sikh community, which ranks as the fifth largest religious minority in the United States. The advocacy group Sikhs for Justice released the following statement: "Our government must take urgent steps to educate the country about the Sikh population and help put an end to these horrific and deadly acts of violence."
"These kinds of terrible and tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not do some soul-searching and examine additional ways that we can prevent" such violence, Obama told reporters in response to the shooting. NYC Mayor Bloomberg criticized both Obama and Romney for not supporting tougher measures on civilian firearm purchases.
The shooting, which occurred a mere 16 days after the Colorado shooting at a movie premiere, illustrates a growing culture of violence within the country. Disturbingly, Page was not released from the Army for his racist views, but for a chronic drinking problem. In fact, the Army awarded Page an honorable discharge, a statement to the white supremacist institutional culture within the armed forces.