A number of politicians and other community members have extended their support to the Sikh American community after the construction site of a gurdwara was attacked by vandals. Being built in New York’s New Hyde Park, the gurdwara was spray-painted with hate speech and racial slurs.
The attack took place at the beginning of August, just days before the anniversary of a mass shooting at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara. During the mass shooting, neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page shot six people dead and wounded four others as they were saying their Sunday morning prayers. Page carried out the shooting before turning the gun on himself.
Police said that the vandal, who is yet to be arrested and is on the loose, climbed up the gurdwara and spray-painted it with the slurs. He made the graffiti with messages of support for former US President Donald Trump, using his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”.
The graffiti also read, “I love Jesus! Only God!” and “this aint ya trap, s**d n**ger”.
“This act of hate and intolerance against the Sikh community here in Nassau County is heartbreaking. We must always choose love over hate. Their resilient response to these attacks embody the Sikh spirit of Chardi Kala—meaning eternal optimism. We stand with our Sikh brothers and sisters,” Indian-American politician Kevin Thomas wrote in a Facebook post.
“I visited Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji New York, which was vandalised last week, with Senator Kevin Thomas to make it clear that we stand with the Sikh community. An attack on one is an attack on us all,” New York state Senator Kaminsky said in a Facebook post.
New Hyde Park village Mayor Chris DeVane condemned the attack, stating that the village is creating a neighbourhood watch group responsible for fighting acts of intolerance.
“Another set of eyes, another set of ears to go around the temple, to go around the 99 Cent Store, the memorial park, be there for the Road School when the kids get dismissed. We’re making concerted efforts to incorporate everybody. We’re also making efforts to try to stamp out these type of stupid people trying to doing stupid things,” Devane was quoted as saying.
Issuing a statement, temple officials said: “We were deeply saddened to discover hateful messages graffitied all over the site where a new gurdwara is being constructed for our community. Given the bigotry and backlash the Sikh community has experienced in the past, it is impossible not to feel pain in this moment.”
Temple officials are working with the Nassau County Police Department, which is in charge of investigating the case.