Fans gathered at Austin’s Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas, to kick back and watch the Jayhawks secure their 13th consecutive Big 12 basketball title. But their good mood was interrupted by gunfire.
Adam Purinton, 51, allegedly opened fire in the bar Wednesday night, killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old engineer. Kuchibhotla’s friend, Alok Madasani, 32, and Ian Grillot, 24, were severely injured in the attack.
That night, according to witnesses, Purinton told Kuchibhotla and Madasani “Get out of my country” before being asked to leave the bar. He left, only to return with a gun. After shots were fired, Grillot intervened. Purinton was arrested in Clinton, Missouri (about 75 miles southeast of Olathe), after he allegedly told a bartender he needed a place to hide out because he’d “just killed two Middle Eastern men.”
Kuchibhotla and Madasani are Indian — not that it would be any better if they weren’t.
Here’s what President Trump said regarding Wednesday’s act of terror in Kansas.
That’s right. He hasn’t said a word.
He hasn’t tweeted. He hasn’t released a statement. His press secretary hasn’t raised the issue in briefings. The silence is deafening.
This attack comes less than a month after the Trump administration announced plans to focus efforts of the Countering Violent Extremism program (CVE) solely on Islamic extremism.
Currently, the Department of Homeland Security uses the CVE to administer grants to schools and nonprofits that counter potential extremist violence. Narrowing the group’s focus is seen as a win for white supremacists, as it could limit funding for groups that aim to prevent terror attacks led by right-wing extremists.
That’s exactly what this attack in Kansas was: terrorism.
The shooter allegedly came to the bar that night to harm, kill, and instill fear in pursuit of his political aim. No one is asking who radicalized him or calling for a ban on middle-aged suburban white men until we “find out what’s going on.” He didn’t need explosives, detailed plans, or the financial backing of a faraway clandestine cell. He had the tacit approval of an entire administration. This one-man army “took his country back.” And the president said nothing.
I don’t expect the president to respond to everything, but I do expect him to respond and condemn acts of terror and hate — especially those happening right here at home.
On an average day in the U.S., 93 people are killed with guns. Targeted attacks against African-Americans, Muslims, and Latinos have gone largely unchecked by Trump’s team since the election. In 2017 alone, Jewish Community Centers across the United States have received close to 70 bomb threats, causing chaos, fear, and confusion.
After JCC bomb threats on Feb. 20, Trump broke his silence and spoke out against the tele-terrorism, saying, “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.”
He’s quick to remind the press of his Jewish grandchildren, daughter, and son-in-law. He boasts about being the “least anti-Semitic” person we’ve ever met. But the self-described “law and order” candidate has yet to present actual plans to crack down on anti-Semitism or violent white nationalism.
No plans to remove Steve Bannon, whose former website is a haven for anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiments. No plans to root out right-wing extremists online, where many radicalize and push their violent agendas. No plans to help local law enforcement support and assist the synagogues, mosques, and community centers under attack or to help bring the perpetrators to justice. Again, the silence is deafening.
I don’t want to think about what it will take to get Trump to actually do something about white supremacy.
Instead, all of us can do our part. We can stand up for victims like Kuchibhotla, support individuals and groups targeted by right-wing extremism, and take to the streets and the ballot box so our representatives know that white supremacy has no place in our communities or government.