Nobody wants a man standing outside their place of worship, wearing a gun, desecrating their holy text, and asserting that all members of the religion should be treated as serious threats.
But an Augusta area Islamic Community Center is dealing with just that.
At the center of all this is James Stachowiak, a man who was in the news earlier this year for a planned open carry, anti-Muslim rally at the state Capitol earlier this year.
Now, he’s uploaded video of himself (content warning for extreme, violent anti-Muslim rhetoric).
“I’ll kill any Muslim that will attempt to silence my disagreement with their ideology of hate. Yes, I carry a gun because I will kill anyone, foreign and domestic…,” Stachowiak asserts. With the caveat that this about any Muslim, “that tries to physically, physically attack me for exercising my first amendment right.”
Yeah, that caveat isn’t comforting.
The Islamic Community Center of Augusta is facing the ugly reality of an Islamophobic backlash following the tragic Orlando Pulse shooting.
Across the nation, attacks against Muslims have gotten deadly scary, with one Houston man getting shot on his way to morning prayers. While a visitor from The United Arab Emirates was taken into custody (and later released) simply for wearing traditional clothing and speaking on his cell phone in Arabic.
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the executive director for CAIR-GA (Council on American-Islamic Relations), released a statement about the real threat of violence Stachowiak poses.
“Such language could easily constitute a terroristic threat,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, a former criminal prosecutor who serves as executive director of CAIR-GA. “If bigoted extremists want to criticize my faith or fish fry holy books for breakfast, they have the constitutional right to do so. But extremists do not have the right to trespass at a peaceful house of worship while carrying a gun and calling for war against their neighbors.”
Adding: “We call on law enforcement to monitor, investigate and prosecute this man before he does exactly what he says he wants to do: wage war.”
Because this community has called for police intervention, I sincerely hope that call is heeded, and the authorities take this man’s threats seriously. But I also recognize that many people, particularly people of color and trans women, are not made safer by cops, and disproportionately face harassment and death at the hands of cops.
There isn’t some quip I can end this on — the reality is that this world is not safe for far too many people — and we all need to do more.