The FBI investigation into the past of Wade Michael Page, the killer in the Milwaukee Sikh temple shooting, has unearthed the visage of a bitter man who drifted from place to place, playing white supremacist music and exhorting other white supremacists to take a stand and fight back.
Page, 40, was active on the Internet, posting on message boards and leaving a trail of his hatred. He described himself as a member of a skinhead group called “Hammerskins Nation,” which is based in Texas with branches in Australia and Canada.
According to a story in Newsday, Page posted 250 messages on one skinhead site, where he was trying to recruit others to his cause, including advertising for a “family friendly” barbecue in North Carolina.
He did an interview with a white supremacist website in 2010, saying that he became active in “white-power” music in 2000 when he left Colorado. He started his current band, End Apathy, in 2005 in Nashville, N.C. The band’s lyrics talked about committing genocide against Jews and other minorities. Page played bass.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization in Montgomery, Ala., told Newsday that Page appeared to be a “frustrated neo-Nazi” whose bands’ sinister-sounding names seemed to “reflect what he went out and actually did.”
Page and other skinhead musicians used hate-filled heavy-metal music to recruit white supremacists to the cause. Page played at gatherings around the country including Hammerfest, the biggest festival of the obscure neo-Nazi genre, the “Lollapalooza of hate,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“There is an entire underworld out there of white supremacist music that the public basically has no idea of,” says Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Montgomery, Ala.-based center, which tracks hate groups.
“The lyrics to the songs these bands sing could not be printed in any newspaper in this country. They are incredibly vile. They call for the murder of all Jews, all black people. When we say it’s hate music, we’re not kidding,” Potok said.
Page was urging fellow neo-Nazis to fight back. When a poster to one of the white supremacist websites said he would leave the country if Herman Cain were elected president, Page responded by telling him, “Stand and fight, don’t run.”
In an April message, Page said: “Passive submission is indirect support to the oppressors. Stand up for yourself and live the 14 words.”
The website for the Hammerskins Nation describes itself and talks about the “14 words”: “The Hammerskin Nation is a leaderless group of men and women who have adopted the White Power Skinhead lifestyle. We are blue collar workers, white collar professionals, college students, entrepreneurs, fathers and mothers. The Hammerskin brotherhood is way of achieving goals which we have all set for ourselves. These goals are many but can be summed up with one phrase consisting of 14 words. ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.’”
As for his military career, Page started out training in psychological warfare but didn’t make the cut and was demoted in 1998 for getting drunk on duty and going AWOL, according to two defense officials said. He was discharged later that year.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said on Monday that investigators might never know for certain what caused Page to go after the Sikhs in suburban Milwaukee. There’s no reference to them anywhere on the Internet in his history. The Sikhs have often been the targets of hate crimes since 9/11 because ignorant American mistake them for Arab Muslims, when in fact they are Indians whose religion has no connection to Islam.
Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, the president of the temple, died defending the temple he started. When Page walked into the house of worship and started firing, Kaleka managed to find a simple butter knife and attempted to stab the gunman before being shot twice, his son said Monday. Amardeep Singh Kaleka said FBI agents hugged him, shook his hand and told him his father was a hero.
“Whatever time he spent in that struggle gave the women time to get cover” in the kitchen, Kaleka said.
Six people were left dead and three others wounded in the temple.