In Kansas, SAALT demands a response to hate crimes


On June 6, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian racial jus­tice and civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion, par­tic­i­pat­ed in a crit­i­cal hate crimes forum facil­i­tat­ed by the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice Com­mu­ni­ty Rela­tions Ser­vice in Kansas. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from gov­ern­ment agen­cies, diverse com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, and advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions gath­ered at the Hin­du Tem­ple and Cul­tur­al Cen­ter of Kansas City to exam­ine and address the big­otry and hate vio­lence tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties nation­wide.

The Kansas com­mu­ni­ty is still reel­ing from the Feb­ru­ary killing of Srini­vas Kuchib­hot­la by a gun­man who screamed “Get out of my coun­try” before open­ing fire. This attack was nei­ther the begin­ning nor the end of the epi­dem­ic of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian, Hin­du, Mus­lim, Sikh, and inter­faith com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try.

“The Unit­ed States was found­ed on reli­gious lib­er­ty, yet our coun­try is flood­ing with hatred and vio­lence explic­it­ly tar­get­ing com­mu­ni­ties based on their reli­gion, race, nation­al­i­ty, and per­ceived iden­ti­ty,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “The Pres­i­den­t’s respons­es to the tragedy in Kansas along with many oth­ers have been deeply prob­lem­at­ic. Mul­ti­ple attempts at a ‘Mus­lim Ban’, care­less words or com­plete silence fol­low­ing attacks on our com­mu­ni­ties, and his fail­ure to name white suprema­cy as a clear and present dan­ger to our coun­try all com­bine to sig­nal the lack of nec­es­sary inter­est, will, and lead­er­ship to address these fun­da­men­tal issues.”

SAALT’s lat­est report, “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial,” doc­u­ment­ed 207 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the divi­sive 2016 elec­tions. While we know this num­ber accounts for only a frac­tion of actu­al inci­dents aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties, 95% of the inci­dents doc­u­ment­ed were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment.

Suc­ces­sive waves of hate con­tin­ue to crash against our com­mu­ni­ties. On June 10 ACT for Amer­i­ca, a not­ed hate group, is host­ing a series of mul­ti-city anti-Mus­lim ral­lies to man­u­fac­ture fear and hatred of our com­mu­ni­ties. SAALT and our part­ners call on all nation­al, state, and local lead­ers to denounce fear-mon­ger­ing and xeno­pho­bia as unac­cept­able and demand the vig­or­ous enforce­ment of our civ­il rights and lib­er­ties. These respon­si­bil­i­ties are not option­al.

With tragedy upon tragedy accu­mu­lat­ing rapid­ly in our nation­al mem­o­ry, the time for our lead­ers to respond must be now.

CONTACT:  Vivek Trive­di —