Police in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Washington, are looking for a gunman who allegedly shot a Sikh man in his driveway on Friday night after telling him to “go back to your own country.” The Seattle Times reports that the Sikh, a 39-year-old U.S. citizen from India’s Punjab province who wishes to remain anonymous, survived the attack with non-life-threatening injuries. The victim was working on his car when he was approached by an unknown white man wearing a mask on the lower half of his face. The attacker threatened him and an altercation ensued, during which, according to the victim, the gunman made statements to the effect of “go back to your country” before shooting him in the arm. Kent police are investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime, and the FBI’s Seattle office has joined that investigation.
According to Jasmit Singh, a leader in the Puget Sound Sikh community, Sikh men in the region have been reporting a rise in verbal abuse and other unwelcome encounters, adding that the escalating hostility reflects “a kind of prejudice, a kind of xenophobia that is nothing that we’ve seen in the recent past.” Singh said the last time the community was targeted in this way was after the September 11 terrorist attacks, but that at that time, “it felt like the [presidential] administration was actively working to allay those fears,” noting that the Trump administration hasn’t offered similar support.
“We’re all kind of at a loss in terms of what’s going on right now, [the shooting] is just bringing it home,” Singh told the Times. “The climate of hate that has been created doesn’t distinguish between anyone.”
“To think that this could happen in our community was very surprising and extremely disappointing,” Kent police chief Ken Thomas said during a press conference regarding the attack. “This is the first incident of this magnitude that I’m aware of in the city of Kent.
On February 22 in Olathe, Kansas, two Indian immigrants were shot, one fatally, by a white gunman who reportedly yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire on the men at a bar near their workplace. That attack sent shockwaves through America’s South Asian immigrant communities and has led to fears of growing white nationalism among some American Indians. The Olathe attack, along with the Trump administration’s nativist immigration proposals, have also prompted some Indians abroad to reconsider their plans to come to the U.S.
Another Indian man, a convenience store owner, was fatally shot outside his home on Thursday in Lancaster, South Carolina, though police have not found any evidence to indicate that shooting was racially motivated.
President Trump, after an unexplained and much-criticized delay, finally condemned the Kansas attack during his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.