BOSTON, MA (March 12, 2017) Over 358 members of the Massachusetts Indian American community gathered to attend A Vigil in Memory of Srinivas Kuchibhotla on Friday, March 10th, 2017 in the Boston Common. Organized by Sonali Lappin, a concerned community member, and President of the Indian American Forum for Political Education (IAFPE), the vigil was the first of its kind in Massachusetts to honor Mr. Kuchibhotla and address the recent wave of hate crimes across the country.
The vigil sought to peacefully gather Boston-based Indian Americans to honor the life and memory of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was tragically killed on February 22, 2017 by assailant Adam Purinton who, according to witnesses, shouted anti-immigrant slurs, yelled “Get out of my country”, and later admitted to shooting two men who he thought were Iranian. Three more attacks on Indians and Indian-Americans have been recorded within the two weeks since Srinivas was murdered. The vigil encouraged participants to raise tea lights in a silent demonstration of their feelings towards hate crimes and people sang and chanted together to honor Mr. Kuchibhotla, his family and other victims of hate-fueled violence.
Vigil attendees were joined in solidarity by members of communities across Massachusetts and drew bipartisan support from elected officials. Vigil attendees included families and youth from across the state as well as Indian-American community leaders and representatives of Massachusetts-based organizations, including Encore Boston, IIT AGNE, TiE, Boston Desi Connection-TV (BDC-TV), TV-ASIA, Lokvani News, India New England, Massachusetts Historical Society, Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, MetroWest Chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), MA Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Massachusetts Commonwealth Seminar, State Representative Tackey Chan, and State Representative Donald Wong.
“It is incredible how many people volunteered and participated in this vigil. Among our donations were lights, flowers, money, and notes for the victim and his family. This is a tragedy that transcends religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, or race and one that demands we unite, and stand together in the face of hate. Profiling and hate crimes are wrong, period. People like Mr. Kuchibhotla and the man who tried to save his life embody the core spirit and values of our state and our country,” said Event Organizer Sonali Lappin.
Many groups have come out to declare this a hate crime fueled by the racism and xenophobia that continues to grip our beloved country. This vigil also seeks to denounce hate, violence, and hate-fueled violence towards people based on the color of their skin, minority status or their cultural, social or political differences. “Violence is unacceptable. This vigil helps us to remember the fallen and reminds us not to tolerate any prejudice,” said Commissioner Jonjy Ananth, Asian American Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “It was heartening to see the support from a wide cross-section of both South Asia and other community members coming together peacefully to show their support for the family of the victims of the tragedy in Olathe, Kansas. The strong, diverse turnout showed that love and hope is universal and will ultimately triumph over hate and hate-filled violence,” said Raj Melville, President of IIT AGNE. “I felt it was important for me to show up for the vigil in honor of Srinivas Kuchibhotla to honor his life and what his horrific death represented to our community. We grieve together and stand together against hate. We w ill continue to do everything we can to ensure that hate does not win,” said Rita Advani, Community Member.
“It was nice to see Indian community come together to support victims family. I condemned the hate and prejudice against anyone. We should live together and respect each other, irrespective of race, religion, and ethnic origin. We Indians are a peaceful community living here in America,” said Razia Mashkoor, owner of BDC-TV. “The vigil was an opportunity for our Community to come together to heal, reflect and no that we are stronger together. The vigil made us realize that we can not take our freedom and rights for granted, we must educate ourselves and our community to ensure everyone is free to live the “American Dream” in this great country. Hate and discrimination have no place in our State, and we will work together as a community to ensure everyone is safe. Sonali Lappin is an inspiration to all of us who wish to empower and unite Indian Americans in Massachusetts,” said Rakashi Chand, Reference Staff at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
“The Indian American community is the most peaceful community in the USA. The racist killings has awoken an almost sleeping giant,” said Dhruba Sen, Founder of MetroWest Chapter of SURJ. “The 2016 election and its aftermath has seen a growing anti-immigrant sentiment in our beloved country. We are becoming unsafe from within. And that is scary for all of us. The only pathway forward is to become vigilant and to build solidarity – and this vigil organized by young Sonali Lappin offers an opportunity to mourn and to rebuild,” said Poonam Ahluwalia, Executive Director YouthTrade. “It was an honor to be part of an event which brings people together and lifts people’s spirits in the face of tragedy. It was heartening to see the best of people on display. This Vigil was a wonderful source of hope and inspiration for anyone who attended,” said Leverett Wing, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Seminar.
“Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s life had great meaning, and tragically so does his death. The attack on Srinivas and his friend Alok Madasani, and Ian Grillot who tried to intervene has all the hallmarks of hate. And, since Srinivas’ murder, there have been two other hateful attacks against Indians. This is not a great America, and this is not a great time in America. I joined the vigil, not only to honor Srinivas but also to be with people who want to be part of a kinder world, one that embraces all our differences,” said Margaret
Evans, Vigil Participant.
“Any act of senseless violence is abhorrent and should be denounced. The unprovoked killing of an innocent within our country or any hate crime requires all of us to stand together and push for the fullest protection of the laws and our Constitution. I was heartened by the comments and expressions of those of our Indian American and other communities that came to the vigil for Mr. Kuchibhotla on Friday. It was reassuring to know that decency is still alive and we are united in having our voices heard,” said Ramesh
Advani, Executive Director, ENCORE Boston. “It was heartening to see so many people at the vigil, who came in spite of the bitter cold on a Friday evening. This signals solidarity and gives me hope that together we can put an end to hate crimes,” said Anu Chitrapu, Community Member.
The Official Srinivas GoFundMe account to collect donations for the victim’s family is closed until further notice. Once re-opened, secure donations can be made here:
Articles on the Kuchibhotla murder and recent hate crimes provided below:
1. Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/03/12/get-out-of-america-man-chargedwith-hate-crime-after-attacking-restaurant-employee-with-a-pipe/?utm_term=.e99205db2959
3. The Kansas City Star http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article135402379.html
5. AP News http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_BAR_SHOOTING_KANSAS_ASOL-?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
7. USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/03/05/sikh-man-shot-seattle-draws-international-condolences/98775418/
(This story has not been edited by BDC staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed from IANS.)