A decade ago, the Southern Law Poverty Center started tracking a singer and guitarist in the white-power music scene. On Saturday, that man allegedly killed six people, opening fire on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin before being shot and killed by police when he refused to disarm.
The alleged gunman, Wade Michael Page, joined the white power music scene in 2000, singing and playing guitar in bands with neo-Nazi beliefs, according to Southern Poverty Law Center spokesman Mark Potok.
"This was not a man who was on the fringes of the scene," Potok told Ed Show host Ed Schultz. "This is a man who was very much in the middle of the white power music world and rubbing shoulders with some of the worst people out there."
Violent crimes against Sikhs are "mistakes on behalf of, in my opinion, extremely stupid people," Potok said, explaining that since 9/11, white supremacists have frequently conflated Sikhs with Muslims, another common target of racist attacks.
"When you look at white supremacist propaganda as we do, you virtually never see writings about evil Sikhs, it's all about Muslims," Potok said. "This guy thought he was targeting Muslims. He just saw beards and turbans."
In 2005, Page started his own band, End Apathy. According to Potok, the band name is a commentary on the perceived failure of many white supremacists to act on their beliefs.