Emil Guillermo: Law and order, Trump, and the Muslim killings

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I’m not going to take the Fifth like Donald Trump did more than 400 times on Wednesday at his deposition with the New York Attorney General’s office.

It’s a civil case concerning the financial structure of the Trump organization. Which is a different case from the FBI raid of Mar-A-Lago for possible violations of the Presidential Papers Act. Which is different from the Georgia case about efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Which is different from the House Ways and Means investigation over his tax returns. Which is different from the House Select Committee hearings on the Jan. 6 attack. Which is different from the Justice Department’s look at potential criminality for actions or lack of action during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Now that’s what I’d call “which” hunt.

At that pace, Trump’s going to be too busy taking the Fifth to run for president in 2024.

But if he makes it a habit to take the Fifth, all his rallies and speeches will be very, very short.

Let’s face it. A former president invoking the Fifth is just not a good look for American democracy, period.

And Trump should know better about pleading the Fifth. He’s the one who said, “If you’re not guilty of a crime, why do you need immunity?”

I don’t need immunity but unlike Trump, I want to come clean on another matter.

When I first heard that a suspect had been arrested in connection to four Muslims murdered in Albuquerque, I’ll admit I immediately feared of the perp was some xenophobic anti-Muslim white person.

Does that make me racist?

Maybe not as racist as Trump. Still, I asked a white person about this and he said, “No, Emil. You just feared that because that’s what happens a lot.”

Yes, I admit I could readily envision a young white male incel holding an AR-15. Manifesto in the hard drive. Racist videos on YouTube. MAGA hat on head.

Already this year we’ve seen the likes of Buffalo grocery store shooter Payton Gendron, who targeted Blacks and believed in the bogus “White Replacement Theory.”

This was also the year of Highland Park shooter Robert Crimo III, who posted racist and sexist remarks before his Fourth of July shooting spree.

But Asian Americans will never forget the 2021 Atlanta spa shooter, Robert Aaron Long, who faces hate crime charges for the murders of six Asian American women.

So I admit, the Albuquerque Muslim killings took me by surprise when police finally identified their arrested suspect: Muhammad Syed.

A Muslim. But don’t call it a Muslim-on-Muslim crime, as if to dismiss it. Crime is crime.

We can all be relieved the killings weren’t part of a racially motivated spree. But it’s still very disturbing why anyone would resort to killing members of Albuquerque’s small Muslim community.

Certainly, the terror felt by Muslim Americans in Albuquerque was real. Estimated at between 5,000 and 10,000 people, the mixed immigrant/refugee community was alarmed to such a degree they feared going out in public.

For now, the lone suspect is Syed, 51, who has lived in Albuquerque for five to six years after immigrating from Afghanistan, where he is said to have fought against the Taliban.

At a news conference, police said an examination of the bullet casings at the crime scenes and the guns in Syed’s home and car were enough to link him to the Aug. 1 killing of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and the July 26 killing of Aftab Hussein, 41.

Police also consider Syed a “likely” suspect in the killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, last November, and that of Naeem Hussain, 25, last Friday.

Reports say Syed knew at least one of the men, Naeem Hussain. The police aren’t saying the shootings are hate motivated, but that may not be relevant. The New York Times speculated that Syed, a Sunni Muslim, may have been angered by his daughter’s marriage to a Shiite Muslim. Differences between the two rival Muslim sects have caused wars abroad, but are not known to sow division in communities in the U.S.

But this is a part of the complexity of our Asian and South Asian immigrant and refugee communities that many are beginning to see.

Just because you leave your ancestral home doesn’t mean you abandon your culture and politics in the new land.

As a young reporter in California, my beat included extensive coverage of the refugee Hmong, Lao, and Cambodian communities. One day, one of my good sources was shot and killed in broad daylight. I’ve always suspected it being an intra-community thing where the community’s silence almost assured the murder would never be solved by police. And it wasn’t.

In another case, the Filipino American community still talks about the 1981 assassinations of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, Seattle labor activists in Local 37 of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU). Domingo and Viernes fought corruption in the union and were also organizers against the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. A community group linked their deaths to Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos and a federal grand jury in 1989 found Marcos guilty of the murders.

One last example happened more recently on May 15, when David Wenwei Chou, 68, born and raised in Taiwan but with pro-China politics, is alleged to have brought a small arsenal to a Taiwanese Church in Laguna Woods, Calif. One person was killed and five injured in the attack.

Homeland politics get in the way here and can become a motive for murder.

But in the end, no matter what your ethnic background, we’re still back to law and order. Rule of law. And the right to public safety of all in American society.

In Albuquerque, a fearful community knew its role. It flooded the police with tips. Silence did not win out. And law enforcement and politicians did their jobs.

At a news conference this week, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-New Mexico) emphasized how state and local law enforcement were working together, “to bring justice, the full force of law, and accountability” to the situation.

“I hope for families and many others who are suffering today based on these horrific murders, that there is clarity of purpose and effective leadership,” said Lujan Grisham.

The governor said she wanted to “make sure we improve and create the kind of public safety environment–no matter the threat–that every single person and family in Albuquerque and every single person and family in New Mexico deserves.”

That’s what you want to hear from a political leader who understands the importance of law and order and public safety for everyone in America.

You don’t want to see them taking the Fifth.

Image by AALDEF

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.

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