Statement Condemning the FedEx Indianapolis Shooting 4/15/2021

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Asian American Studies Program & South Asian Studies Initiative at Ohio State

April 2021

 

The Asian American Studies Program and the South Asian Studies Initiative at Ohio State categorically condemns the mass shooting that occurred at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis on April 15, 2021, which took the lives of eight people—including four Sikh Americans—and injured several others.

This massacre is unfortunately just one in a series of recent, high-profile incidents involving mass gun violence and lethal police force perpetrated against Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinx people. Since the Atlanta area spa shootings on March 16 in which six Asian American women and two others were killed by a single gunman:

  • Daunte Wright (20) was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 11, just miles away from where Derek Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd;
  • Adam Toledo (13) was shot and killed by a police officer in Chicago on March 29, the body cam footage released on April 15 showing Toledo’s hands in the air;
  • Ma'Khia Bryant (16) was shot and killed by Columbus police a mere half hour before the guilty verdicts were read in the Chauvin trial on April 20;
  • Andrew Brown, Jr. (42) was shot and killed by county deputies in Elizabeth City, NC, on April 21.

Acknowledging the complex and intertwined nature of these violent events requires situating them within the daily and unrelenting assaults of white supremacy. It also means refusing that ideology’s divide-and-conquer tactics of deeming one set of victims “innocent” and another “guilty-until-proven-innocent”—presumptions that too often fall along Asian vs. Black, Latinx, and Indigenous lines.

Even from within the highly diverse and stratified “Asian American” population itself, the Indianapolis atrocity has received far less attention compared to the Atlanta spa shootings. To be sure, the FedEx shooter turned the gun on himself, so “we may never know for sure what drove him to do what he did,” as the Sikh Coalition states in a press release:

We do know, however, that the FedEx facility he targeted was well known for having a large Sikh workforce. Given everything our community has experienced in the past—the pattern of violence, bigotry, and backlash we have faced—it is impossible not to feel that same pain and targeting in this moment.

Sikhs have resided and established communities in the U.S. since the 1890s and have faced discrimination since then. But the most recent “pattern of violence” refers to the deadly “backlash” and everyday profiling and harassment that Sikh Americans have experienced in the wake of 9/11/2001. The most extreme act of violence took place at a Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, on August 5, 2012, in which six worshipers were shot and killed by a self-identified white supremacist.

As activists in Columbus and around the country protest the death of Ma’Khia Bryant and too many others, we continue to stand in solidarity with the Sikh American community and all those affected by the recent upsurge in mass gun violence and police killings.