Temple Gunman Had Long History of Hate ; His Music Raised Alarms of Groups That Track White Supremacists Years Ago

By Erica Goode; Serge F Kovaleski | International Herald Tribune, August 8, 2012 | Go to article overview

Temple Gunman Had Long History of Hate ; His Music Raised Alarms of Groups That Track White Supremacists Years Ago


Erica Goode; Serge F Kovaleski, International Herald Tribune


Wade M. Page, who the authorities said killed six people at a Sikh temple, was a white supremacist who performed in a racist rock band.

His music, Wade M. Page once said, was about "how the value of human life has been degraded by tyranny."

But on Sunday, Mr. Page, a U.S. Army veteran and a rock singer whose bands specialized in the lyrics of hate, coldly took the lives of six people and wounded three others when he opened fire with a 9- millimeter semiautomatic handgun in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the police said. Officers then shot and killed him.

To some who track the movements of white supremacist groups, the violence was not a total surprise. Mr. Page, 40, had long been among the hundreds of names on the radar of organizations monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of his ties to the white supremacist movement and his role as the leader of a white-power band called End Apathy. The authorities have said they are treating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.

In Oak Creek and in nearby Cudahy, south of Milwaukee, where Mr. Page lived in the days before the attack, the magnitude and the nature of what had happened were only beginning to sink in, grief competing with outrage. A company flew its flag at half-staff. A Christian minister offered his parishioners' help to a Sikh gathering at the Salvation Army.

At a news conference on Monday, Teresa Carlson, a special agent for the F.B.I., which is leading the investigation, said, "We don't have any reason to believe that there was anyone else" involved in the crime. Law enforcement officials said earlier on Monday they wanted to speak with a "person of interest" who was at the temple on Sunday, but by late afternoon they had ruled out any connection between him and the shooting.

Oak Creek's police chief, John Edwards, speaking at the news conference, identified the five men and one woman who died at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin: Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Prakash Singh, 39; Paramjit Kaur, 41; Suveg Singh, 84; and Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, who was the center's president.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Mr. Page had come to the center's attention a decade ago because of his affiliation with rock bands known for lyrics that push far past the boundaries of tolerance.

"The music that comes from these bands is incredibly violent, and it talks about murdering Jews, black people, gay people and a whole host of other enemies," Mr. Potok said. He added that in 2000, Mr. Page tried to buy unspecified goods from the National Alliance, which Mr. Potok described as a neo-Nazi organization that at the time was one of the best organized and best financed hate groups in the United States.

But Mr. Potok said the center had not passed any information about Mr. Page to law enforcement.

"We were not looking at this guy as anything special until today," he said. "He was one of thousands. We were just keeping an eye on him."

Although little known among music fans, a steady subculture of racist and anti-Semitic rock bands has existed on the margins of punk and heavy metal in Europe and the United States since at least the 1970s. Hate groups sometimes use some of the bands and their record labels for fund-raising and recruiting, according to the law center and the Anti-Defamation League.

In an interview posted on the Web site of the record company Label56, Mr. Page mentioned going to Hammerfest, an annual white- supremacist festival well known to civil rights advocates. …

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