WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 24, 2017) — South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, is deeply disturbed by the deadly shooting of two South Asian men, Alok Madasani, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounding a non-Asian man who tried to intervene, in Kansas City that left one victim dead in what appears to be a hate crime.
Our thoughts and condolences go to the victims’ families and communities. Sadly, this latest act of violence comes as no surprise given the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim vitriol escalating across the country, most notably illustrated in President Trump’s divisive recent executive orders.
“This incident is the latest in a rising tide of hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities, electrified by the President’s anti-immigrant policies,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT. “When our ‘so-called’ leaders attempt to govern from an angle of xenophobia, these sentiments embolden deadly violence against our communities.”
Witnesses reported the shooter yelled “get out of my country” and various racial slurs before opening fire, apparently believing his two victims were ‘Middle Eastern’. SAALT welcomes news that the FBI is investigating whether this incident was racially motivated and we insist that considerations of domestic terrorism are included in the investigation to address the problem of growing white supremacy across the country.
SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” documents over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric against our communities during the 2016 elections, with an astounding 95 percent of incidents motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. Regardless of the target, it is enough simply to be perceived as Muslim to be the victim of violence.
The President has yet to comment or offer his condolences to the victims’ families after this latest tragedy, consistent with his pattern of curious silence in the wake of hate violence incidents against many communities including Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Jewish Americans. When tragedies charged with anti-immigrant sentiment occur on the heels of anti-immigrant executive orders by the President, we must demand better from our leaders. SAALT calls on the President to immediately denounce hate violence and rescind his recent anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim executive orders. We further encourage legislators at all levels to condemn this unacceptable violence.
Despite the venomous words of the shooter, there is a place in America for all of our communities, and we will fight fiercely for our rightful place within it.