Tragic tale of race in Wisconsin


Second part of a long story in today's Tribune about the recent shooting incident in Wisconsin. A Hmong man responded to (alleged) racial threats by stalking and killing his (alleged) tormenters. More fallout from the Vietnam War, I'm afraid.

Chicago Tribune news: Part 2: Angry words, then hunters become prey
[Chai] Vang told Gillis and an FBI agent who also was in the room that he was sitting in a tree stand near the border of public and private land when a man in blaze orange walked up and told him he shouldn't be on someone else's property.

“I told him I didn't know it was private,” Vang told the investigators. “I didn't see any signs.”

He tried to leave, but soon a group of men arrived on an ATV, surrounding him and calling him names. Vang said he had been afraid they were going to attack him.

“Follow the ATV trail and get the fuck out of here and never come back,” one man had said.

Vang said he tried to apologize again, and was walking away when someone fired at him.

Vang shot back, and when the men starting running, Vang said he thought they were going for their guns. Vang described how he chased the men down, shooting some in the back and opening fire on others who rushed to the scene on ATVs.

The investigator wrote out the statement and went over it with Vang several times. At 2:05 p.m., about 26 hours after the shootings, Vang signed the statement.

In his statement to police, Vang did not describe how he felt about the shootings, but in a letter, Vang wrote, “I have done something to defend myself and my race.”

Later, in a call from jail, Vang said he feared the hunters were going to kill him.

“I shot them because they shot at me first,” he said. “I thought I was going to die.”
...One night, two Hmong men walked into the Frontier Saloon in nearby Exeland, the same bar some of the hunters had visited the night before the shootings.

The woman tending bar asked the Hmong to leave. She was afraid they would get hurt.

A Minnesota decal store began selling a misspelled bumper sticker that read: “Save a Hunter, Shoot a Mung.”

And a resident of a mobile home park in Menomonie, Wis., 80 miles south of the shooting, painted “Killers” on the homes of two Hmong neighbors.

In Minneapolis, near Vang's house, a white supremacist group distributed fliers with photographs of the six dead hunters and the question, “Is diversity worth even one American life?”

Shortly after Vang's arrest, his wife received a threatening call in St. Paul.

“If you come into Wisconsin and kill more people I swear to God I will have you decapitated,” said a slurred male voice that became angrier as the hate-filled message played on.

The threat strengthened the family's belief that Vang acted in self-defense.

“If they killed him, who would know?” said Vang's brother, Sang. “If they shot him, they wouldn't say anything at all.

”He would just disappear.“

Although some Hmong organizations have distanced themselves from Vang--one group took up a collection for the families in Rice Lake--others have offered support.

Wameng Moua, publisher and editor of Hmong Today, a newspaper in St. Paul, said he does not support Vang, but he knows many others who do.

”Hmong people believe deep in their hearts that Chai Vang was cornered,“ Moua said, ”and he was fighting for his life.“

Part One here, part two here



The Vietnam War claims lives every year in the U.S. (mostly from service-related injuries and contamination with nice stuff like Agent Orange), and in Vietnam (mostly from old land mines -- successive U.S. administrations have refused to provide maps and instructions which would allow most of these to be found and disarmed).

Yes, and also from those whose psyches were scarred from combat and aftermath (like Mr. Vang, or my uncle) or from the stress of being a draft dodger (like my long-lost biological father). Who knows what's going to happen to the Iraq War veterans when they try to reintegrate into society?

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on September 8, 2005 7:28 AM.

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