NEW YORK, Aug. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called for the shooting spree inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin to be investigated as a potential hate crime, as details emerged that the alleged gunman was a white supremacist well known to ADL and other hate-group monitors for his longtime involvement in the American racist skinhead movement.
Authorities identified the suspected gunman as Wade Michael Page, 41, an alleged white supremacist skinhead who, according to ADL's Center on Extremism, was the leader of "End Apathy," a white power music band affiliated with the Hammerskins, a longstanding hardcore racist skinhead group with a history of violence and hate crimes.
"We are deeply shocked by this heinous act of violence against peaceful innocent Americans targeted at their house of worship, apparently singled out because of their faith and appearance that makes them appear different from other Americans," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We strongly condemn violence against any religious group and we are confident that federal, state and local law enforcement officials are closely examining the possibility that this was a hate crime."
Page, who sometimes referred to himself by the pseudonym "Jack Boot," is festooned with white supremacist tattoos, including a Nazi Death's Head tattoo and a Hammerskins tattoo. According to ADL, his band has been featured at many Hammerskin-organized white power music concerts in recent years, including the August 2010 "Meet & Greet BBQ & Bands in North Carolina, the Hammerskins' St. Patty's Day Show in March 2011 in Orlando, Florida, and Hammerfest 2011 in October 2011, also in Orlando.
Six people were killed and at least three others, including a police officer, were wounded in the August 5 shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, outside Milwaukee. The League has reached out to the Sikh community both at the national and local level to express concern, condolences and solidarity, as well as to offer its resources and guidance on institutional security and responding in the aftermath of a hate crime.
"Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ADL and law enforcement officials have documented many apparent "backlash crimes" directed at Muslim, Sikh, and Arab Americans," said Mr. Foxman. "We have raised concern about a spike in bigotry against Muslims and others perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin. This attack is another gruesome reminder that bigotry and hate against those whose religion makes them 'different' or 'other' can have deadly consequences."
The U.S. Department of Justice has investigated over 800 incidents since 9/11 involving violence, threats, vandalism and arson against Arab-Americans, Muslims, Sikhs, South-Asian Americans and other individuals perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
SOURCE Anti-Defamation League