US man stalks Indians, posts video saying ‘they’re taking away our jobs’

A post on the website called ‘Welcome to Columbus Ohio suburbs - Lets take a walk to Indian park’ features a video of Indian families hanging out in a public park in suburban Ohio.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2017 07:47 IST
Siladitya Ray
Siladitya Ray
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indians in US,Anti-immigration,H-1B visa
A screengrab of the video titled ‘Ohio Suburban Park is Occupied by Indians’.(Youtube video)

Days after the fatal shooting of Indian-born engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an anti-immigration website that features photos and videos of Indian families relaxing in the city of Columbus, Ohio, has alarmed community members in the United States.

A post on the website called ‘Welcome to Columbus Ohio suburbs - Lets take a walk to Indian park’ features a video of Indian families hanging out in a public park in suburban Ohio. The video’s description mentions how wealthy Indian families have ‘moved in’ to suburban homes in Ohio as “displacement of Americans has occurred”. As of March 6, the video has over 41,000 views on YouTube.

A Buzzfeed report says that the website is created and maintained by Steve Pushor, a 66-year-old computer programmer from Virginia.

In the video, Pushor’s camera pans over people playing volleyball and children riding bikes, as he narrates: “The number of people from foreign countries blows my mind out here. You see this whole area is all Indian, amazing. It’s an amazing number of jobs have been taken away from Americans. The Indian crowd has ravished the Midwest. It’s a takeover.(sic)” Pushor sarcastically describes the park as a “mini Mumbai”.

Pushor initially posted this video and the accompanying document ‘Ohio - A Journey To Indian Park’ in August. The document labels India as a “hell hole” and highlights the loss of “Norman Rockwell white people class” in the US. A link to the document now directs to a 403-error page, but an archived version of the page are still available online.

Read | The document published on the website

The recent shooting of Kuchibhotla and the anti-immigration rhetoric of the Trump government has caused the video and document to resurface on Facebook posts, forums and WhatsApp groups of Indian immigrants in the US.

Bhavin Bavalia, a US-born IT professional and son of Indian immigrants, said he came across the site and the video when a friend shared it on Facebook. Talking to Buzzfeed news, Bavalia said, “To think that there could be some weirdo filming my cousin’s kids as they’re playing at the park, and possibly fomenting resentment towards them, is just disturbing.”

Kaplesh Kapadia, the Indian-born CEO of a California startup SelfScore, said that Pushor’s website was the subject of discussion this week in at least five different WhatsApp groups.

“What we’re trying to point out is people in Ohio, IT workers and other professional people have lost their jobs to foreign guest workers. That’s what our point is,” Pushor said. Pushor also said he doesn’t want Indians currently living in the US to leave the country, and doesn’t advocate violence.

But members of the Indian community seem to disagree.

“This guy’s video is so horrific and creepy! I want to take time and document how awful he is.” Anil Dash, the Indian-American CEO of Fog Creek, a New York-based software firm said in a tweet.

A screen grab from the website referring to Indian IT cos as the ‘Indian IT Mafia’.

The website calls the “Indian IT mafia” as one of the “public enemies” of American IT professionals. A snippet on the website says: “The Indian IT Mafia Mega firms have greatly harmed the American Information Technology Workforce for decades. Their notorious practices and collaborations with greedy US Corporations have resulted in USA IT professionals training their H-1B or L-1 Indian replacements in order to receive severance pay. This is outrageous.”

Indian IT firms like Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Cognizant, Tata Consultancy Services and others are listed as the companies that make up the “Indian IT mafia”. The website also claims that “The Indian IT Mafia has through the years violated US laws and has been subject to several fines and have been found guilty of labor law violations and software thievery.”

The report says Pushor described the tone of his posts about Ohio as “satire” and pointed to other documents on the site, including an interview with an anonymous Indian tech-worker living in California . “To say our video and our document… is going to make such an impact on their lives is a big stretch.”

First Published: Mar 06, 2017 13:49 IST