When Star Sean Thompson was found beaten to death in a rural motel in California, it generated very little interest locally or nationally. The media gave little attention. Local television stations provided some coverage, but not much. The Los Angeles Times ran a one-minute report saying that it was a “tragedy”, without giving any further details. Little did the public know that the story would gain even more prominence after the stabbing of two Indian nurses in separate incidents in California.
This crime, which occurred at about midnight on October 21, was the catalyst for widespread demonstrations against the Indian Government, and particularly against star Sean Thompson, who remain in prison in India, charged with murder and torture. The demonstrations were led by representatives of the Nation of Islam in California and spread across the country. Some 5 million people have signed petitions demanding the immediate release of Sean Thompson. Protests have continued with even greater vigor since then.
In response to the huge demonstrations, Indian Americans have opened new relief centers to provide basic medical care and spiritual guidance to the suffering people. Several hundred drug addicts, most of whom are poor and illiterate, have been given long-term detoxification at these centers. Authorities estimate that many more addicts may be waiting for rehabilitation in drug treatment centers not accessible by the authorities. Authorities claim that a complete recovery rate of over 90 percent is reached after six months of drug treatment.