Komal Chohan: Remembering The Indianapolis FedEx Shooting Six Months Later

Nobody should ever have to deal with losing a loved one in this manner and nobody should have to deal with surviving and coming to terms with seeing this type of event

Komal Chohan
October 15, 2021 | 3.5 min. read | Opinion

Six Months.

On April 15, I remember getting on social media right before bed, only to find out that there was a shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis. I immediately began to run names through my head to remember which of my family members would be at work in the warehouse at that time. 

I messaged my cousins and they said that some of the employees had been escorted to a nearby hotel after they had spoken to the police. From there, they were allowed to be taken home, but we had one person missing - Amarjeet Johal, my Naniji. 

I started posting my pleas on Twitter to see if anybody had information on where people might have been taken.

With so many of the employees shaken up, everybody’s stories were not aligned, and it was hard to separate fact from false memories. My cousins even went to the local hospitals to see if she had been injured, but there was still no new information. All of Friday felt like a nightmare trying to hold on to even an ounce of hope that she may still be with us. 

The family did not get word until late Friday, and then there was just silence for days. 

Nobody should ever have to deal with losing a loved one in this manner and nobody should have to deal with surviving and coming to terms with seeing this type of event. It has been six months now and I am still waiting on some actual accountability on part of FedEx and an answer as to why companies wait until after a tragic event to make changes.

As a millennial, I do take some sort of accountability because a lot of our younger generation has failed to educate our elders on their rights and what should be made accessible to them at their places of work. 

At this FedEx facility, the signs that were meant to inform the employees about safety rules and hazards were not accommodating. If the employees were predominantly Punjabi, then they should have been translated. 

Also, the security was not catered to the employees. It was mainly focused on ensuring that the merchandise would not leave the property. That is why when the shooting happened, he was able to move from one side of the building to the other. The shooting lasted about four minutes. 

The sign issue Sikh Coalition was able to work on, but the security can only be fixed if FedEx holds themselves responsible. 

The larger issue at hand is that a lot of minorities and low-income families work in these types of factories or establishments, and they are being exploited if their needs are not being met. Until this tragic event happened, not many of them were aware of worker’s compensation, that they were working way overtime, and many other ways that they were not really being treated how they are supposed to be. 

A lot of that did not matter to them because of the community they had built, but that does not scrap FedEx’s responsibility to make sure their workers’ rights are not being taken away from them unknowingly. 

This case has so many different sides to it; we could dive into how he was able to buy a gun despite his history or how the authorities said that the amount of white supremacist material was relatively minor. We will truly never know the motive behind what happened.

That is why my mission is to stay focused on ensuring that the rights of our elders that work in these settings are being met. A huge part of that is by educating them and encouraging them to be vocal when they have issues. 

Our elders have a habit of brushing things under the rug because they do not want to be a burden, or it is minuscule in the grand scale of things. But that is why laws are in place to ensure that this does not happen because those are discriminatory practices. 

As we all sit and remember the lives lost six months ago, I want all of you to also reflect on what you have added to your local Sikh community. What minor or major change have you made in your life to help our people in the long run? A lot of people ask what they can do to help and that is the answer right there. 

If we want to stop events like this from happening, then we need to be a part of the change.

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Komal Chohan obtained her BA in Criminal Justice and is currently working on her JD in the US to become a Civil Rights Attorney. She works with local shelters to help domestic violence survivors and runs Sikhi educational seminars through local schools. You can find her on Twitter at @yourlawyerkomal.


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