iNDICA NEWS BUREAU
“This ain’t ya trap,”
“Jesus is the real GOD!”
“Trump 2024 Make America Great Again!”
These were some of words that were scribbled all over a new upcoming gurdwara — place of worship for the Sikh community — at New Hyde Park in Nassau County, New York.
The gurdwara is still under construction.
According to the County of Nassau Police Department’s press release, the incident registered as a burglary/bias crime occurred between Monday and Wednesday.
“It is possible [that it is] a bias crime, but until a person is arrested it is hard to say if this is a hate crime, and it is up to the district attorney,” Officer Kenneth Palmieri, spokesperson for the Nassau County police told indica News when asked if it was a hate crime.
Asked how many people entered the building and if the FBI was involved in the investigation, the officer said that it was the act of one man.
“I don’t believe the FBI is involved; the investigation is ongoing,” the officer said. “The arrest has not been made.”
Aaccording to the press note, an unknown person entered the gurdwara using a ladder, climbed onto the roof, smashed a window, broke a door, and left graffiti on the walls of the nearly ready house of worship.
According to the Sikh Coalition, the vandalism was discovered on Tuesday afternoon. The gurdwara has retained the Sikh Coalition to assist in the case.
The graffiti was discovered this week during a commemoration of the ninth anniversary of a mass shooting against fellow Sikhs in Wisconsin.
In a statement to the police, the gurdwara leadership 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 at this moment.
“We also draw inspiration from how we have always responded to incidents of hate with resilience and the Sikh spirit of chardi kala (relentless optimism),” the statement added.
“If the intent of this vandalism was to sow fear we instead hope that it will help raise Sikh awareness and bring our diverse Nassau County community closer together.”
The gurdwara has been under construction for several years, and had been delayed due to the pandemic, according to Aasees Kaur of the Sikh Coalition.
Giselle Klapper, senior staff attorney at the Sikh Coalition, said through a statement: “No community deserves to feel unsafe in their house of worship. We are grateful to law enforcement for responding quickly to this vandalism and moving to investigate bias as a motive given the clear xenophobic rhetoric.”
Anoop Singh, a Sikh resident of Nassau County, said: “We were deeply saddened to discover these hateful messages graffitied… We are grateful to the authorities for their prompt response and full transparency, and expect they will continue to share what they learn and ensure the safety of our gurdwara.”
The Sikh community has been in the US for over a century and made vital contributions to the culture and economy, yet the Sikhs continue to face hate violence, harassment, and discrimination at alarmingly high rates.
This latest incident of vandalism comes days before the ninth anniversary of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara mass shooting.