Queens community rallies after subway attack Residents of Queens, NY, are asking the police department and the city’s transportation leaders to both step up enforcement of hate crimes and soften their tone against Muslims. The call for tolerance from New York City leaders comes after Sunando Sen, a Hindu-Indian immigrant who was mistaken for a Muslim, was pushed to his death from a subway platform in front of an oncoming train last week. About 50 people demonstrated in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens this week. Police representatives and local councilmen joined the group in solidarity. Protesters held signs displaying messages like “Stop normalizing racism and violence,” and “NYPD and MTA, racial profiling and hateful ads have consequences.” “I saw and talked with Sunando just moments before the incident,” Ranjit De Roy, a friend of Sunando, said to the group. “He was a quiet and gentle man who never harmed anyone. How many more lives must we lose to this racism?”
Two men pled guilty on Tuesday to federal hate crime charges stemming from a series of attacks on African-Americans in Jackson, MS last year, including the murder of James Craig Anderson, according to CNN. William Kirk Montgomery, 23, and Jonathan Gaskamp, 20, were part of the group of young men responsible for Anderson’s violent death in June 2011. Montgomery was there the night that Darryl Dedmon, Jr. ran over Anderson with his truck after the group savagely beat the 49-year-old auto plant worker. Though uninvolved in Anderson’s murder, Gaskamp had participated in other, similar attacks around Jackson with the group. Both Montgomery and Gaskamp pled guilty to federal hate crimes charges this week. In total, five men from the group have been charged with crimes related to the attacks. Dedmon, John Aaron Rice and Dylan Butler all pled guilty to federal hate crime charges earlier this year. Dedmon was sentenced to life in prison and Rice and Butler face life sentences. More Arrests Possible Prosecutors on the case told CNN that even more arrests could be made as the investigation into the group’s repeated attacks around Jackson continues.
Ole Miss Students Hold Vigil After Election Night Protests Last week, University of Mississippi students stood up to another divisive protest. On Election Night, after the re-election of President Barack Obama, more than 400 students gathered to protest, yell racial epithets and burn an Obama campaign sign. Chancellor Dan Jones quickly denounced the protests, saying students and faculty of the university were “ashamed” of the actions of a few of their peers. The following day, student group One Mississippi gathered about 700 students at a candlelight vigil, where they read the university’s creed to “respect the dignity of each person.” It was the same counter tactic they used when the Ku Klux Klan protested in support of the controversial chant—“the South will rise again”—sung at university football games in 2009. Check out video of the vigil on Vimeo.
This sign was posted on a fence a few yards from where Marcelo Lucero was killed in a hate crime attack on Nov. 8, 2012 in Patchogue, NY. Today marks the fourth anniversary of Marcelo Lucero’s hate crime killing in Patchogue, NY. Marcelo’s death unveiled a pattern of anti-immigrant attacks that had gone unnoticed for years. We documented Patchogue’s efforts to heal divisions after tragedy in Light in the Darkness, and we remember Marcelo Lucero today because immigrants are still vulnerable to violence. A young Mayan man recently came to our office to share the story of how he was severely beaten by white supremacists on the streets of San Francisco last year. “I felt the first blow hit me and from there it didn’t stop,” he told us. “I didn’t know how to escape.”
By Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Fellow It happened again this week. A woman in Louisiana told police that she had been set afire in a horrifying hate crime Sunday — only to have police, after a full-tilt investigation,say yesterday that she had fabricated the story.Sharmeka Moffit, 20, set herself on fire in a park in Winnsboro, LA, Police Chief Lester Thomas told a news conference late yesterday. She earlier told police that she had been attacked by three men of unknown race who were wearing “T-shirt hoodies.” A racial slur and the letters “KKK” were found daubed on her car when police arrived within one minute of her call to 911. A major investigation involving the Winnsboro Police Department, the Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office and the state police was launched.
We joined Oak Creek, WI for a vigil and funeral after the mass shootings at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. In this short film, we witness the community coming together in the wake of tragedy. Thousands gather in the center of town to support the Sikh community in the aftermath of the Aug. 5, 2012 hate crime killing at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee. Mayor Steve Scaffidi, Police Chief John Edwards, and Amardeep Kaleka, son of the slain temple president, share prayers and hopes for peace and unity. Days later, the community comes together again for a memorial service for the six victims of the attack.
Editor's Note: Not In Our Town covers communities that respond to reported hate crimes and this story details how residents of Lincoln, NE and nearby cities stepped forward when they believed a neighbor had been harmed. Sadly, police now believe that the victim fabricated the story. Despite this unfortunate episode, it is important for neighbors to support victims of hate crimes, which occur every day. Prompted by a brutal attack against a lesbian in her own home, the Lincoln, NE community is organizing and speaking out in support of the victim and against hate-driven violence. On July 22, Lincoln resident Linda Rappl heard a knock on her door around 4 a.m. She discovered her neighbor, a 33-year-old woman, naked and wrist-bound on her doorstep. The victim claimed three masked men had painted derogatory slurs in the victim’s home and carved slurs into her skin before they attempted to burn down her home. Rappl called 911. “She is a wonderful, beautiful person," Rappl said. "I couldn't ask for a better neighbor."
From the Chicago Tribune: Candlelight vigil for victims of Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin at Palatine Gurdwara in Palatine, IL on Aug. 6. Communities nationwide join together to honor the victims of the Oak Creek, Wis. Gurdwara massacre on Aug. 5 that left six dead and three wounded. The nationwide invitation is organized by the Sikh Coalition, Sikh leaders and organizations. "A crime like this should be condemned, regardless of what ethnic or religious group is targeted. The shooting is no less or more reprehensible if it was directed against Americans attending a mosque, synagogue or church. This type of attack is not attack on one community; it's an attack on us all," said Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur. Offer Help & Support to the Oak Creek Sikh Community
Our hearts and thoughts are with the community of Oak Creek, Wisconsin today, after yesterday's tragic shooting at a Sikh temple that claimed seven lives—including the gunman—and left three wounded. The Sikh community has been a target of hate since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and often mistaken for Muslim. Yesterday's tragedy reminds us of the two Sikh grandfathers who were shot during their daily stroll in Elk Grove, Calif. in March 2011. We joined the community seven days after the shootings and documented their interfaith vigil, and again, for the community's Sikh Solidarity Day, detailed below. This piece is an example of community solidarity with the Sikh community and law enforcement leadership. One of the community leaders in Elk Grove was Amar Shergill, a West Sacramento attorney who is a board member of that city's Sikh temple and the American Sikh Political Action Committee. He spoke about Oak Creek, Wisconisin's tragedy with the local Patch.
This is the first in a five-part series published by our public media partneras at Fronteras. Listen to the accompanying radio piece. By Jude Joffe-Block PHOENIX — Gilbert, Ariz. is a bedroom community outside of Phoenix that has seen explosive population growth in recent decades. As it grew from a small, conservative farming town into a more diverse community, some notable tensions arose. “In 1993, our detectives started to identify in the town of Gilbert a gang that called themselves White Power,” said police spokesman Sergeant Bill Balafas. Six years later, a spin-off gang called the Devil Dogs emerged among football players at Highland High School. “Their belief system, we learned, was for white people and anti everything else,” Balafas said. “So they were racists, but that didn't mean they didn't beat up white people, they just beat up everybody.”