Monday, February 18, 2008

Vigil unites Hispanics, immigrants, city leaders in face of white supremacist crime in Columbia

"Right-wing terrorist group" members destroyed mosque by fire

Earned promotion for attack

"We run the world," "White Power," swastikas

Vigil response stresses welcome to all

Donations solicited for rebuilding fund

NewsChannel reports here that more than 100 people gathered in a vigil Saturday in support of the recently firebombed Islamic Center of Columbia. WKRN reports here that graffiti from the attack included three swastikas and the words "We run the world" and "White Power." The Tennessean reports here that two of the three perpetrators of the attack have identified themselves as part of the Christian Identity Movement, which the FBI describes here and in this 1989 memo as "a right-wing terrorist group" of fewer than 2,000 followers. The Tennessean says here that followers nationwide now number 50,000, that there are two known chapters of the group in East Tennessee, and that they view non-whites as animals.

The federal government's complaint against the attackers includes a confession that "stripes or promotions are earned for committing acts of violence against ‘enemies,'" according to this story in the Tennessean.

Among those who stood in solidarity with the Center in Saturday's vigil were city leaders as well as immigrant and Hispanic groups:
Organizations such as the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, the Islamic Center of Nashville, the Maury Alliance Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education among others were present for the vigil.

Residents and city leaders in Columbia also stressed the importance of making people of all faiths and races feel welcome in the community.
At a time when hate groups are fueling the "vibrant" national rhetoric about immigrants (see for more info), the local struggles of immigrants and Hispanics in the face of racism, xenophobia, isolation, and hate crimes have been documented in these and other stories in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook:
Growing list of negative comments about Hispanics by Tennessee public officials, November 2007
Resist negativity towards immigrants, November 2007
Words and worlds of Minuteman, November 2007
Too much hate in immigration bureaucracy debate?, July 2007
Tennessee 6th from top of list of states with most hate groups, May 2007
Struggle after September 11: Hispanic citizens and immigrants, September 2006
The Nation finds nativism in Nashville, August 2006
Exclusionists amplify anger; weaponized immigration prophecy fulfilled, May 2006
"Shoot him" - Nashville radio cited in rise of violent rhetoric, May 2006
Tennessee man planned bombings of Hispanics, August 2005
Scene contest gets record number of "xenophobic redneck" entries, July 2005
Cries of Minuteman heard in Hamblen County, July 2005
Members of the public can put their American values of brotherly love and neighborhood into action by donating to the Islamic Center of Columbia for the rebuilding of the mosque. A fundrasing account has been established at the following bank:
Islamic Center of Columbia Rebuilding Fund

Community First Bank and Trust
501 S James Campbell Blvd.
Columbia, TN 38401

WSMV reports here that area churches have already stepped up, including one that has collected $10,000.

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