Academic Who Knew Sikh Shooter Wade Michael Page Says Neo-Nazi Soldiers, Musicians Shaped His Hatred
The following is a transcript of a Democracy Now! interview with Pete Simi, an academic who met and interviewed Wade Michael Page, the man who killed 6 in the Sikh temple shooting.
Years ago, University of Nebraska Professor Pete Simi met and interviewed a white power musician who had served in the military specializing in psychological operations. On Sunday, it was that same man — Wade Michael Page — who attacked a Sikh temple in Wisconsin killing six worshippers. Page, who died following the attack from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was an Army veteran with a long involvement in the neo-Nazi music scene. The military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, reports Page was steeped in white supremacy during his Army days and spouted his racist views on the job as a soldier. We speak to Simi about Page’s politics, the white-power music scene and Page’s time in the military.
He’s joining us now from Omaha, Nebraska. Professor Simi, welcome to Democracy Now! Tell us how you met Wade Page.
PETE SIMI: I began conducting field work with members of different white supremacist groups in 1997. By about 1999, had began focusing on the Southern California movement, the different groups and individuals that were involved in Southern California. One of my main contacts ended up being Page’s housemate. I met Page through one of my main contacts in 2001. He had been in Southern California for not very long. He had recently relocated from back East to Southern California. The main reason for him relocating was to join his first band, his first White Power neo-Nazi band Young Land, which was a fairly newly emerged band in Southern California that was kind of an up and coming in that scene. So, it was at that time that I met page. He was just really starting to get involved in the White Power music scene and was starting to meet a lot of different people in Southern California.
AMY GOODMAN: What was your reaction on Sunday when you first saw the photograph of the man who opened fire on the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin?
PETE SIMI: Actually, I did not realize that it was Page until Monday afternoon fairly late. I was not able to follow media coverage earlier on Monday as details were being released. I was on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website reading one of their articles about the tragic incident, and a photo — a side profile of Page — was prominent in that article. I immediately recognize the photo and it looked a lot like Page, but that at point I still did not really fully realize who it was. Then, as I read the article, it really hit me. It was a very surreal feeling. Frankly, just kind of sick to my stomach when I fully realize that this is the person who I had spent fairly extensive time with over the course of close to 3 years.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Pete Simi, he, Wade Michael Page, grew up in Littleton, Colorado, the site of the Columbine shootings?
PETE SIMI: Yes, that is what he had told me.
AMY GOODMAN: Did he talk about being affected by them?
PETE SIMI: Not in particular, no. That was not anything that he — maybe mentioned in passing, but nothing in particular about Columbine that I remember him really talking about in depth.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about his years in the military, 1992-1998, where the reports are he worked in Psy-Ops at Fort Bliss in Texas, and then at Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Psychological Operations. Did he talk about this period and what he did in this unit and what he did in the Army overall?