We grieve for the eight victims of Thursday’s shooting in Indianapolis, four of whom were Sikh from the Punjabi community. As we have learned, many Sikh employees worked at the FedEx warehouse. Although the motive for the murders is still being determined, recent evidence revealed that the shooter was browsing white supremacy websites. As the Sikh communities continue to navigate the complexities of grief, we hold them close and think of the historical trauma and recent wounds our Sikh and South Asian brothers and sisters have endured.
“Our hearts go out to their families of those killed in Indianapolis and to the Sikh community in Indiana as well as the other victims,” said Rod Lew, executive director of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL). “We need to recognize that the current environment of hate and violence against Asian Americans is built on racism in all forms, including systemic racism and policies that perpetuate fearmongering.”
The current environment of hate and violence against Asian Americans is nothing new. From federal policies like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to the racist targeting of South Asian people following 9/11, and the white supremacist killing of six Sikhs at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012. These are just a few examples of the racist policies and hate crimes that have occurred in our country.
During the past year, #StopAAPIHate has reported 3,795 incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021 against Asian Americanss. We understand that our Asian American community is going through pain and fear, and we stand in solidarity with you during these troubling times.
We thank our network partners from across diverse communities for speaking out against all forms of violence and racism against Asian Americans and other communities of color. We continue to stand as an advocate for addressing racism as a public health issue; ultimately, safety from racially-motivated violence cannot be separated from community healing and well-being. We encourage a united front across different sectors, including media, business, justice, government, and community to respond appropriately and with compassion to ensure that we honor those lives lost and strive for justice for the families and for our communities.
You can donate to the memorial fund set up for the Sikh victims of the shooting by local gurdwaras (Sikh temples) who are working with the families at https://gofund.me/193dd753. If you are looking to support Sikh organizations at this time, please consider the following: Sikh Coalition, SALDEF, Jakara Movement, and Kaur Life.
Rod Lew, MPH
Executive DirectorFull Statement