On Feb. 22, two Indian American immigrants were targeted and shot in a bar in Olathe, Kan., and one of them was killed. A third man was shot trying to stop the shooter.
The shooter, Adam Purinton, reportedly yelled, “Get out of my country” and thought his victims were “Middle Eastern.” A bartender at Austin’s Bar and Grill said that Purinton used racial slurs before he started shooting.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, both 32, were shot in the attack. Kuchibhotla died at a local hospital. Madasani is in stable condition and is expected to recover.
Purinton was charged with first-degree murder on Feb. 23. Bond was set at $2 million. The third victim, 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who was shot as he intervened, was hospitalized.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, issued the following statement:
“Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who died after sustaining a gunshot wound, and our wishes for a full recovery to Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot, who were also shot in the attack.
“As civil rights organizations that have fought hate attacks against our community for decades, we are particularly saddened and angered by the shootings in Kansas. In 2017, it is outrageous that two Asian Indian immigrant men would be shot, and one killed, by a white man who senselessly fired on innocent men as he reportedly shouted, ‘Get out of my country.’
“The Olathe shooting is reminiscent of the 1982 hate crime killing of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American engineer, who was beaten to death in Detroit by two white unemployed autoworkers who called him ‘Jap’ and blamed him for the decline of the American auto industry.”
“We condemn the rising Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism that has been unleashed on our nation during the past year, and in particular the rhetoric and actions of the Trump Administration, such as the recent Muslim ban. They set the stage for Srinivas Kuchibhotla to be the Vincent Chin of our current generation,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles.
Kwoh worked with Chin’s mother and local lawyers in Michigan more than 30 years ago to seek justice for the killing.
“We demand a thorough investigation into the shootings, including the hate crime allegations, and for local, state, and national leaders to denounce such hate and violence,” he said.
While Asian Americans have long been targets of harassment due to the perception that they are foreign, South Asian communities in particular have experienced a significant increase in hate violence since 9/11 and saw a spike again during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle.
Aarti Kohli, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, noted, “Indian Americans, particularly Sikhs, have shared the considerable cost of anti-Muslim violence in recent years and our communities live with increasing fear. We ask all Asian Americans to rise up and demand a change in rhetoric and policy from our leaders. Attend a town hall or city council meeting and ask what public officials plan to do to ensure that all Americans feel safe in their communities, regardless of their race or immigration status.”
In the past month since the Advancing Justice affiliation launched a website to track anti-Asian hate incidents, it has received more than 80 reports from victims and is tracking additional cases like the Olathe shootings. Reporting anti-Asian and other hate attacks to www.standagainsthatred.org is encouraged. Advancing Justice’s online reporting site does not trigger law enforcement investigations or action; however, it is a critical tool to track and expose hate attacks against Asian Americans.