Less than a week ago, a hate crime occurred in Kansas City. Austin’s Bar and Grill is a popular local spot near the international headquarters of Garmin. A drunken Adam Purinton was asked to leave the establishment for his racist remarks. He leaves, then comes back inside the neighborhood bar, and yells “get out of my country.”
He then opened fire at two men he thought were Middle Eastern.
The two men he targeted, engineers at Garmin, were originally from India – Srinivas Kuchibhotla died, Alok Madasani was wounded. The third man who was wounded, Ian Grillot, had stood up for them and was trying to stop the shooter.
All over Reddit and social media, I am seeing blanket statements like the following:
“Exercise precaution at all times / avoid staying in Kansas, Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Wyoming, Arkansas, New Mexico, Georgia and West Virginia. These are the worst states of America. If you are considering moving to one of these states to study or work, don’t move in these volatile times.” – Reddit
“I honestly don’t know why an Indian would move here. They usually interact in isolation from their co-workers who make no attempt to show any interest in their culture. Assumptions about their “smell” are made casually among white people and the non Indian women here won’t date them due to their “soft racism”. I have many Indian friends and how they are regarded here compared to LA, is obscene. .. Nobody deserves to put up with random ignorant cultural stigmas from uneducated idiots. – Reddit
And Pres. Trump’s silence is not helping pic.twitter.com/Q9RA8n8I5e
— Anup Kaphle (@AnupKaphle) February 27, 2017
That’s Not Kansas City
I’m a white, middle class woman who grew up in Johnson County, a suburb of Kansas City, just 15 minutes from Austin’s Bar and Grill. Yes, I’m white, but I’m still talking… KC is my home.
I went to school in the Shawnee Mission School District. I went to the University of Kansas just 45 minutes from Kansas City. I returned to KC to work in the IT industry and occasionally find myself in Austin’s Bar and Grill for work events.
As part of my job, I meet a lot of people. I am active in the Kansas City community. I know people of all races, religions, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations – and every other criteria that some people believe can be used to divide us.
Edited To Add: I am a gun owner who practices gun safety and education. Washington/ Trump/ immigration is a current hot-button issue that I, of course, have thoughts on. However, many are using this tragedy as a way to push their agendas, instead of focusing on the victims and the facts. I think it’s distasteful.
That said, luckily we live in a country that allows free speech – until it infringes upon others’ right to the same, of course. My views are mine, your views are yours. Just don’t be a jerk. Funny how that applies to more than just the internet!
See The Good
I implore you to listen when I say: this act of hate is not Kansas City. Adam Purinton is not Kansas City.
Instead, see the good: the people who showed who they were the day of this tragedy.
- The patrons who told Austin’s management that racism was occurring so that Purinton could be kicked out of the establishment.
- Ian Grillot, who literally took a bullet for a stranger because of racial persecution.
- Ben, a worker at Austin’s, who possibly saved Alok’s life directly after the shooting, keeping pressure on his wounds, using his own shirt for compression.
- The bartender who immediately called police when a man came into her bar and said “he shot and killed two Iranian people in Olathe.”
- Our police force and first responders. From Olathe Police who swarmed the area, to the police force 90 minutes away in Clinton, MO (Henry County). Paramedics and medical personnel who helped saved the lives of two of the victims and did everything they could for Srinivas Kuchibhotla.
- The over 1 million dollars of funds that have been raised for the victims of this tragedy, both from Kansas City and from all over the globe.
I encourage you to look to the vigil held last weekend in our city. Hundreds gathered Sunday in Olathe for a peace march and prayer vigil in response to the shooting. People represented Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and Judaism, among others. Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland, Olathe Police Chief Steve Menke, Kansas state Sen. Rob Olson, U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer spoke about union and respect. Marchers held banners and shouted, “We want peace”; “We love peace”; “Unity is part of community, together we stand, divided we fall”.
At the vigil, victim Alok Madasani came to speak to the community, still walking on crutches. He called the shooting “an isolated incident that doesn’t reflect the true spirit of Kansas, the Midwest and the United States.”
Look to those who stand up for others in the face of racism and hate. Bad things can happen anywhere, like they just did in Kansas City. Be the type of person who doesn’t stand for hate.
Victim Grillot said: “I just did what I felt was naturally right to do… I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being. It’s not about where he’s from, or ethnicity. We’re all humans.”
This senseless act of violence committed by Adam Purinton was about intolerance, racism, and hate.
Please don’t hate our city. Please don’t hate our people. No matter what is happening in Washington, this is not how we act in Kansas City. Adam Purinton is not representative of Kansas Citians. And we do not put up with his hate.
I wish everyone affected by this tragedy peace in dealing with this experience. Kansas City is with you.
P.S. As always, words are my own and not the opinions of my employer or clients.