Austin, TX, 3/5/17 – Lead by the Indian American Coalition of Texas (IACT)’s Board, members of the South Asian and greater communities came together in a show of solidarity on Sunday evening. Saddened and motivated by the tragic recent killings of South Asians in hate crimes, the community came together to express its sorrow but also show Austin and the world at large that they cannot be intimidated by random acts of violence. The South Asian community has been rocked in the last few weeks by a spate of hate crimes marked by the perpetrators shouting racist comments like “Go back home!” or “go back where you came from!” Two recent attacks include the murder and shooting of two Indian immigrant IT workers in Olathe, Kansas and the shooting of Sikh immigrant at his home in Kent, Washington. The incident in Washington occurred over the past weekend.
In response to these crimes, IACT held a Condolence and Unity vigil at the Texas State Capitol’s south steps. The event drew out a few hundred local residents, from a diverse group including the South Asian community and other ethnic groups. Additionally, the event drew attendance by local officials, including three Austin City Councilmembers: Alison Alter (District 10), Gregario Cesar (District 4), and Jimmy Flannigan (District 6). Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez was also present. The event began with a solemn walk around the south capitol lawn, followed by a few comments from George Thomas, IACT President. Thomas stressed the importance of continued vigilance in the face of hate crimes, and the need to ensure that every single incident is reported to police, thereby allowing authorities to investigate crimes and track trends.
After Thomas spoke, the local officials each took a few moments to express their solidarity with the South Asian community and share their personal perspectives on the current issues. Councilmember Alter talked about the personal nature of this issue, as her children are of South Asian descent. Councilmember Cesar pledged his strong support of the community, and Councilmember Flannigan talked about his district which is home to the largest Asian population in Austin. Sherriff Hernandez also communicated her support of the community, and her office’s commitment to ensuring safety for all.
The event provided a way for the community to come together to express sorrow but also show resolve. “It’s important of the community to come together in moments like this. We need the world to know that we’re aware of what is going on, and we will remain vigilant. Our community will work together to ensure safety and security for all of our residents. I am encouraged and inspired by the strong showing we had today, and IACT will continue to provide leadership on issues like this,” Thomas said.
About The Indian American Coalition of Texas (IACT)
Founded in 2005, the Indian American Coalition of Texas is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that is designed to increase bipartisan political engagement in the Indian American community as well as the larger Austin and Texas demographic. The organization works to ensure participation through education and engagement, which are intended to drive empowerment. Its past accomplishments range from monitoring and reporting on the status of Texas state legislation that could impact its constituents, establishing youth civic engagement programs, and organizing a civic engagement day for Indian Americans that was recognized on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. IACT enjoys bipartisan support and participation by Austin’s and Texas’s elected officials.