For Sikhs, FedEx tragedy leaves familiar fears

“I think more important than asking whether this was a hate crime, the first step for us was asking for a thorough and complete investigation,...Unless we have that, we’re never going to understand what happened.” - Amrith Kaur, legal director of the New York-based Sikh Coalition

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People at a vigil hold photos of victims of the April 15 shooting at the FedEx facility, including Jasvinder Kaur, at a vigil in Indianapolis’ Krannert Park. – Photo: IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey
By Dave Stafford | The Indiana Lawyer | United States |

Amrith Kaur wants answers. But days after the FedEx shooting in Indianapolis that left eight people dead, she was dissatisfied with those she had gotten and troubled by those she hadn’t.

Kaur, legal director of the New York-based Sikh Coalition, represents a population that has been repeatedly targeted in hate crimes, particularly since 9/11. Responding to the shooting in Indianapolis, Kaur said she is concerned about what she considers a lack of information about the shooting and about gunman Brandon Scott Hole, 19. She’s troubled by what she called inconsistent information from law enforcement on whether bias may have been motivating his killings.

“I think more important than asking whether this was a hate crime, the first step for us was asking for a thorough and complete investigation,” Kaur said. “Unless we have that, we’re never going to understand what happened.”

Four of the eight people killed were Sikhs, and Kaur acknowledges some things may never be known because Hole took his own life after the shooting. But she said a comprehensive and transparent investigation, possibly involving the U.S. Department of Justice, is critical to ensuring law enforcement builds trust and rapport with victims’ family members, survivors and the community.

Kaur has questions. Among them, why did Hole choose to target the FedEx Ground facility where he briefly worked before he was fired last year? Was there a pattern to whom he targeted and shot, or a significance to the late-night assault? Was he motivated by white supremacist websites police said he had been viewing when they were dispatched on a mental health call to his home in March 2020?

She also has an overriding question that came to the fore in the days after the shooting: Why didn’t law enforcement act on a pattern of facts that, to her prior experience as a Chicago prosecutor for more than a decade, raised plenty of red flags that she believes should have triggered a red flag petition to prevent Hole from obtaining a weapon?

“My job here is to ensure that all of those factors are investigated and taken into account,” Kaur said.

The FBI issued this statement April 22 attributed to Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan: “The FBI continues to work with (Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department) and other law enforcement partners to find a motive for this senseless act of violence, and will be meticulous and thorough in our investigation and devote as much time as needed to find answers for the victims’ families. We are not ruling out any motive at this time, including one based on hate/bias.”

Keenan previously had told reporters that after the March 2020 incident involving Hole, “no probable cause was found to initiate any type of legal federal process” against him, adding, “The FBI takes great care to distinguish between constitutionally protected activities and illegal activities undertaken to further an ideological agenda.”

In calling on law enforcement to thoroughly investigate, Kaur noted a police report from that incident stood in “stark contrast” Keenan’s statement.

Read the full story, ‘For Sikhs, FedEx tragedy leaves familiar fears’ (28 APril 2021, The Indiana Lawyer), here.

 

RELATED STORY:

Four Sikhs, including a grandmother, among 8 killed in Indianapolis FedEx mass shooting (Asia Samachar, 17 April 2021)

 

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