US probes racism Sikh deaths

US probes racism Sikh deaths

US probes racism Sikh deaths

Sikhs participate during a prayer vigil at the Sikh Religious Society temple in Palatine. A gunman killed six Sikhs at a temple. AP photo

A gunman who killed six worshippers at a Wisconsin Sikh temple played in white supremacist heavy metal bands and posted frequent comments on Internet forums for skinheads, repeatedly exhorting members to act more decisively to support their cause, according to Internet records.

“If you want to meet people, get involved and become active,” Wade Michael Page wrote last year, “stop hiding behind the computer or making excuses.” A day after Page’s Aug. 5 rampage, authorities were trying to determine if the 40-year-old Army veteran was taking his own advice when he opened fire on total strangers at the gurdwara. Detectives said it might be impossible to know for sure, but material left on the Internet, as well as a checkered Army career, suggested he was a white supremacist who wanted to see his beliefs advanced with action. Page, who was shot to death by police, described himself as a member of the “Hammerskins Nation,” a skinhead group rooted in Texas with branches in Australia and Canada, according to the SITE Monitoring Service, a Maryland-based private intelligence firm that searches the Internet for extremist activity. Between March 2010 and the middle of this year, Page posted 250 messages on one skinhead site and appeared eager to recruit others, according to the Associated Press. In March 2011, he advertised a “family friendly” barbecue in North Carolina, imploring others to attend. In an April message, Page said: “Passive submission is indirect support to the oppressors. Stand up for yourself and live the 14 words,” a reference to a common white supremacist mantra.

The bald, heavily tattooed bassist trained in psychological warfare before he was demoted and discharged from the Army more than a decade ago. After leaving the military, he became active in the obscure underworld of white supremacist music, playing in bands with names such as Definite Hate and End Apathy.

Message from Obama

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama, described Page as a “frustrated neo-Nazi” whose bands’ sinister-sounding names seemed to “reflect what he went out and actually did.” Their lyrics talked about genocide against Jews and other minorities.

U.S. President Barack Obama said mass killings, like the one at the Sikh temple, were happening with “too much regularity” and should prompt soul searching by all Americans on ways to reduce gun violence.