New York Police on Wednesday announced that an unabashed white supremacist was behind the stabbing death of a black man in midtown Manhattan earlier this week.
28-year-old James Harris Jackson has confessed to driving from Baltimore, Maryland on a mission to kill black people, police said. The suspect apparently admitted to fatally stabbing 66-year-old Timothy Caughman in the chest and back after an argument late Monday, and was about to attack an interracial couple before turning himself in just after midnight Wednesday.
"You need to arrest me. I have the knife in my pocket," he reportedly told cops at the Times Square NYPD substation.
According to the Daily News, Jackson, an army veteran, is part of a hate group in Maryland and the author of a racist manifesto, and had it out for black men linked romantically to white women. At a Wednesday press conference, the NYPD seemed to confirm at least part of that narrative, suggesting the crime was "clearly racially motivated" and that the Jackson was "specifically intending to single out" black men for assault.
"He picked New York because it's the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement," Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubrey told reporters.
Although the NYPD did not immediately provide more details on Jackson's ideology, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that 18 out of the country's 917 hate groups are located in Maryland. And while data is scant for 2017 so far, hate crimes were up by an average of 23 percent in nine major US metro areas last year.
A North Carolina man was arrested this week after allegedly committing a hate crime while invoking President Donald Trump, the Miami Heraldreports.
Cops say Brandon Ray Davis was taken into custody for using his rented motorized scooter as a deadly weapon in an apparent attack on two men riding their bikes in the Florida Keys in February. The victims, Kevin Seymour and Kevin Price, say that Davis swerved up behind them on his scooter and started shouting homophobic slurs after they expressed concern about his driving.
According to the victims, Davis yelled, "You guys are a couple of fags," "I bet you faggots voted for that bitch Hillary," and rounded out his tirade with, "You live in Trump country now." Police believe Davis, who was reportedly drunk, then rammed his scooter into the tail of Seymour's bike, knocking him off but not injuring him.
The assailant fled the scene before cops could apprehend him, but the victims managed to take down the scooter's plate number, and police tracked Davis down from there.
Davis was arrested in Oslow County, North Carolina, before being let out on bond Thursday. He is currently fighting an extradition warrant to Florida, where he faces a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon with evidence of prejudice.
A St. Louis man and former journalist has been charged with making a series of bomb threats against Jewish sites around the country, the New York Timesreports.
According to the FBI's criminal complaint, the suspect, Juan Thompson, allegedly made at least eight threats against Jewish centers as part of a campaign to "harass and intimidate" an ex-girlfriend. He's accused of phoning in bomb threats to the national Anti-Defamation League headquarters in New York City last week, as well as Jewish centers in Dallas and San Diego.
The complaint claims he also inexplicably made some threats in his own name, in an attempt to show his ex was actually trying to smear him. Thompson—who is apparently the same "Juan Thompson" who was fired from his journalism job for fabricating stories—has also been charged with stalking.
There has been an alarming spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes this year, including vandalism at multiple Jewish cemeteries and at least five waves of bomb threats made to Jewish schools and community centers across 30 states. Though Thompson was allegedly behind at least half a dozen threats to Jewish Community Centers and other institutions, law enforcement sources consider him merely a "copycat." Which is to say not even close to all of this year's threats can be blamed on a bitter ex's bizarre (alleged) cyber harassment campaign.
Self-proclaimed "least anti-Semitic person" Donald Trump addressed the rise in Jewish hate crimes last week, saying, "Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it's going to stop and it has to stop."
The New York Police Department announced Wednesday that there have already been 35 anti-Semitic hate crime incidents in New York City this year. That's a whopping 94 percent increase from the same time last year, which saw just 18 reported incidents at the end of February 2016.
The numbers seem to chart a growing trend of anti-Jewish hate growing across the nation in recent months. In the last two weeks, dozens of bomb threats were made to Jewish Community Centers (JCC) and schools across the country, and two major Jewish cemeteries werevandalized. According to DNA Info, it's not clear if the 35 incidents in New York City include the four recent unfounded bomb threats made toward two local JCCs, a Jewish museum, and the Manhattan headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League.
"We believe that's part of a nationwide pattern," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a news conference Wednesday. "We've spoken with the FBI in regards to specific verbiage used in each one."
After initially being slow to respond to this new outbreak of hate crimes and avoiding journalists' questions about it, President Trump finally addressed the incidents last Tuesday, saying, "Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it's going to stop and it has to stop." A day later, Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to the Jewish cemetery near St. Louis where nearly 200 headstones had been knocked over.
The number of incidents against Jews account for the overwhelming majority of all hate crimes across the city, fueling a 55 percent increase from the same time last year, according to NYPD statistics. There have been 68 total hate motivated crimes in 2017—including incidents against black, Muslim, and LGBTQ New Yorkers—as opposed to 44 at the end of February 2016.
While hate crimes are on the rise in New York, crime in general was down 9.7 percent from the year before. Even though Trump cited the "carnage" of "inner cities" in his inaugural address, his hometown had 22 fewer shooting incidents last month than it did in February 2016.
Almost a full week after a 51-year-old bar-goer reportedly shouted "get out of my country" before murdering an Indian man, the White House denounced the act as likely "racially motivated hatred," according to Agence Presse-France.
"As more facts come to light and it begins to look like this was an act of racially motivated hatred," Sarah Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, told reporters, "we want to reiterate the president condemns these or any other racially or religiously motivated attacks in the strongest terms. They have no place in our country."
Last Wednesday, Adam Purinton allegedly walked into Austin's Bar and Grill outside of Kansas City and opened fire at two Indian patrons. He then drove 70 miles to an Applebee's where he confessed to a bartender that he had "done something really bad" to some people he erroneously believed to be from Iran. He was arrested without incident at the restaurant after staff called the police.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old Indian engineer, died at the hospital that night. Purinton has since been charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder for injuring Kuchibhotla's friend, Alok Madasani, and Ian Grillot, a 24-year-old who tried to intervene. The FBI announced Tuesday that it is investigating the Kansas bar shooting as a hate crime.
Madasani's parents have since warned other Indian parents not to send their children to the United States, saying the country is now dangerous for foreigners of color following Donald Trump's election. Trump campaigned on banning Muslims from entering the country, and soon after he took office, he issued an executive order that barred immigration from seven majority-Muslim nations.
Today's statement from the White House is the first time the administration acknowledged the attack since Friday, when press secretary Sean Spicer said that there was no correlation between the president's rhetoric and the shooting.
"Any loss of life is tragic," he said at the daily press conference. "But I'm not going to get into, like, that kind of––to suggest that there's any correlation, I think is a bit absurd."
"Members of our community must see swift and concerted action from federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities," Jewish Community Center Association of North America's David Posner said in a statement.
Though no one appears to have been injured, the calls fit into a broader trend of anti-Semitic threats so far in 2017, which has already seen dozens of bomb scares across the country. And the hate has spilled over into actual violence: In the last week alone, hundreds of headstones were vandalized at two Jewish cemeteries—roughly 170 in Missouri and some 100 more in Philadelphia this past weekend.
President Trump, the self-proclaimed "least anti-Semitic person" there is, commented on the recent rise in anti-Semitic threats last week, intoning, "The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil." That statement fell short in the eyes of the Anne Frank Center, which after the Philadelphia grave attacks called on the president to make a televised address about the broader climate of fear in America.
"The FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country," Carrie Adamowski, Philadelphia's FBI public affairs specialist, said Monday. "The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner."
The FBI is investigating a Kansas bar shooting that left one Indian man dead and two others injured on Wednesday to determine if it was a possible hate crime, CNN reports.
Adam Purinton, 51, was charged with murder after open firing on Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani—two Garmin employees originally from India—at a bar outside of Kansas City. Ian Grillot, a bar patron, reportedly tried to intervene, but was shot and later hospitalized along with Madasani. Kuchibhotla was shot and died in the hospital.
"I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being," Grillot told KMBC. "It's not about where he's from or his ethnicity. We're all humans. So I just felt I did what was naturally right to do."
According to the Kansas City Star, at least one witness heard Purinton yell "get out of my country," before fleeing the scene on foot and trying to hide in a nearby Applebee's. Before the Applebee's employees called the police, he reportedly told a bartender he had killed two Middle Eastern men.
At a news conference on Thursday, local law enforcement officers declined to comment on whether or not they believed the shooting was a hate crime. FBI special agent Eric Jackson said the bureau had joined on to try to figure out if Purinton was racially motivated or violated the victims' civil rights.
"This was a violent crime and we want the best prosecution that relates to this because there are victims of this crime and we want the community to know that," Jackson said. "We're looking to make sure that the individual involved in this is held accountable for his actions."
According to NPR, Purinton has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted premeditated murder. He's currently being held at the Henry County Jail on $2 million bail.
(Top photo from a protest in 2013 unrelated to this piece. Photo: Yui Mok PA Archive/PA Images)
There are over 400,000 Sikhs living in the UK—a pretty sizable number by any stretch. But when it comes to acknowledgement from wider society, some within Britain's Sikh community claim they're next to invisible. Most non-Sikhs couldn't tell you the name of the religion's holy book, they claim, and there's little discussion around anti-Sikh hate crimes, or specific government initiatives to prevent Sikhs from being subjected to religiously-motivated attacks.
However, the government appears to be making its first effort at correcting this. At the end of last month, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the government would be funding a program aimed at improving "the reporting and prevention of hate crime," with a portion of the £375,000 [$468,000] grant allocated to True Vision—the police's online portal for reporting hate crimes—which aims to "encourage groups that face challenges in reporting hate crime," such as "Sikh and Hindu communities."
The move has been celebrated by Sikh groups, who believe that attacks on Sikhs are frequently ignored or misreported as anti-Islamic hate crimes.
A survey released towards the end of 2016 revealed that 20 percent of Sikhs experienced public discrimination last year. The figure is even higher for turban-wearing Sikhs, at 27 percent. In spite of this, the government's 40-page plan for preventing and dealing with hate crime, released in July of 2016, didn't contain a single reference to offenses committed against Sikhs. It didn't mention crimes against Hindus either, which has led to accusations that governmental efforts to stamp out discrimination are themselves discriminatory, neglecting non-Abrahamic faiths.
"Twenty-eight percent of victims recorded under the 'Islamophobic hate crime' category during 2015 were in fact non-Muslims."
Hardeep Singh, press secretary for the Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), believes the fact that Sikhs and Hindus weren't included in the plan suggests that, until recently, authorities have been unconcerned about victims of anti-Sikh and anti-Hindu hate crimes. "The government has demonstrated an egregious lack of sensitivity to non-Abrahamic faiths," he says. "The taxpayer-funded projects designed to tackle bigotry simply focus on Muslims, Jews, and Christians."
In early 2016 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) confirmed that, from April of 2017, police forces across England and Wales will have to record religious hate crimes according to religion—which may put to an end to another potential problem: that anti-Sikh hate crimes are perhaps neglected because many of them are wrongly recorded.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by the NSO revealed that 28 percent of victims recorded under the "Islamophobic hate crime" category during 2015 were in fact non-Muslims. "When it has been reported, the suffering of Sikhs and Hindus sadly hasn't even registered," says Hardeep. "The reality is that we face not just the backlash to Islamism, but also an age-old hatred from Muslim extremists themselves—so, if you like, it's a double whammy."
Since 9/11, both individual Sikhs and gurdwaras have regularly been on the receiving end of attacks by people who have mistaken them for Muslims and mosques, respectively. There have been numerous high-profile incidents in the media, notably the attempted beheading of Sikh dentist Dr. Sarandev Bhambra in a Welsh supermarket in 2015. The perpetrator shouted "I did it for Lee Rigby" after hacking at his victim with a machete, suggesting he thought Dr. Bhambra was a Muslim and that he was exacting vengeance for acts of terrorism. The attacker was convicted of Dr. Bhambra's attempted murder and jailed for a minimum of 14 years.
There was also the case of Jagdeesh Singh, who in 2004 was repeatedly punched in the face while walking home with his ten-year-old nephew in Coventry. His assailant bombarded him with Islamophobic abuse during the attack, accusing him of being a terrorist and calling him Bin Laden. Jagdeesh believes that incidents of this nature are partly due to government narratives about British Asians that center upon Islam, and exclude Sikhs and Hindus. He claims that this has led to a situation in which the British public view anyone with brown skin as Muslim.
"We've been placed in the blanket category of 'Asian,' and whenever there's a perceived problem within the Pakistani community or a perceived problem within a particular community, they don't say the specific community; they just use the blanket term 'Asian,'" he says. "What we want is an equal and comprehensive policy and approach to all forms of hate crime, where Sikhs and non-Sikhs are equally protected and safeguarded, and hate crimes against us are recognized. We don't get that, because every time there's a home affairs select committee inquiry, it's never about Sikhs. It's always about other religions."
These sentiments are echoed by Phaldip Singh, another victim of an anti-Sikh hate crime. Towards the end of 2015 he was on the receiving end of an unprovoked attack in Birmingham city centre, in which he was shoved aggressively and verbally abused by a group of up to eight men. The offence took place in the early evening in a crowded area. "I think wherever you go, it's always about the Abrahamic faiths," he says. "It's as if no one else exists in the world."
Phaldip believes that the government's neglect of such crimes might stem from an underestimation of the problem due to so many attacks being mis-recorded. "If they're just labeling things as Islamic hate crimes and not specifically crimes that are targeted towards Sikhs, then there won't be any statistics, and without those statistics, they can't do anything about it," he says.
There is also the theory that the lack of representation of Sikhs in hate crime statistics has its roots in public organizations' failure to acknowledge their status as an ethnic group as well as a religion. In 1983, the Commission for Racial Equality launched a successful racial discrimination case on behalf of the father of a Sikh boy who had been denied entry to a school because of his turban and uncut hair. Sikhs wear turbans to represent piety, spirituality, courage, self-respect, and honor, and allow their hair to grow to symbolize devotion to God. The result of the case cemented Sikhs' legal status as a race as opposed to merely a religion. However, in practice, they're typically simply viewed as Asian, which means there are no official government records of how many Sikhs are the victims of racially-motivated anti-Sikh offenses.
Gurjeet Singh of the Sikh Federation believes that faith-based monitoring is extremely limited compared to the degree to which organizations record the race of those they deal with. He claims that this is to blame for the government's lack of awareness around the extent of attacks against Sikhs.
This new funding program and the changes to how police record religious hate crimes are both positive signs, but relative to the problem it's only a small step in the right direction. A share of £375,000 isn't a huge amount, in the grand scheme of things. And as Phaldip Singh pointed out, it's not until campaigners are armed with statistics that they can properly make a case, and it'll be at least another calendar year after the police's recording changes are implemented in April before an annual report can be drawn up.
"Whether you see Sikhs as a religion or an ethnic group, there's a clear and tragic failure at the highest governmental level to recognize us as a distinct group and recognize that we're vulnerable," says Jagdeesh. "Isn't it time that changed?"
Six men were killed at a shooting at a Quebec City mosque Sunday night, in what authorities are describing as a domestic terrorist act.
Two suspects, both men in their 20s and early 30s, have been arrested. While police are not naming the suspects or speculating on their possible motives, other media outlets have identified them as Laval University students Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed Khadir.
The names of the six dead have not been released. Two victims are currently in critical condition at Centre Hospitalier Universite Laval and will require additional surgeries, but they are expected to survive. Three additional victims are expected to be released from hospital shortly. Twelve were treated and released from hospital. All of the victims are men between the ages of 39-60, the RCMP said at a press conference Monday morning.
"We're still in the early stages of the investigation," said RCMP superintendent Martin Plante. "We're not going to discuss the specifics at this time."
Charges have not yet been laid.
A member of a Quebec SWAT team escorts a woman not far from the shooting scene. Photo by Andre Pichette
Approximately 200 police officers were called to the scene Sunday night at around 8 PM, where two masked gunmen had entered the ground level of the Sainte-Foy Islamic Cultural Center. Around 40 people were at the mosque for evening prayers at the time.
Police said one of the suspects was apprehended near the crime scene while another called 911 and waited about 12 miles from the shooting site for them to pick him up by the side of the road. No other suspects are believed to be at large.
All mosques in Laval are currently under high security.
Family members of victims have been advised to go to Jeffery Hale building at Saint Brigid's hospital, where trauma and social work services are available.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement Monday morning saying he was shocked and angry to learn of the tragedy.
"We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge," he said. "Muslim Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities, and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance."
Quebec City mayor Régis Labeaume wrote on Facebook that "violence and intolerance towards anyone, groups or individuals, is simply unjustifiable and unacceptable.
"The whole town is with you and we will be at your side in order to get through this terrible ordeal which exceeds the reason."
The Islamic Cultural Center, also called the Grand Mosque of Quebec, was targeted last June when a bloody pig's head was left there wrapped in plastic with the note "bonne [sic] appétit." It has also previously been vandalized with notes that said "Fuck Arabs," "white power," and swastikas.
The shooting comes on the heels of US president Donald Trump's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the States.
Hundreds of protesters against the Muslim ban gathered outside the US consulate in Toronto Monday morning.
Trump also reportedly called Trudeau to express his condolences and offer support.
Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, known for praising Trump and stoking Islamophobia through her proposed policies of screening immigrants for Canadian values and creating a barbaric tips hotline, tweeted that the shooting was "heartbreaking."
In response, many called for her to drop out of the race.
"You are contributing to Islamophobia in this country," wrote one user. "Drop out of the race, resign your seat, and reflect on your life choices."