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The Sikh Coalition News
August 6, 2021
  • Responding to Vandalism at a New York Gurdwara

    August 6, 2021 (New York, NY) -- Sometime between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon, Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji New York in New Hyde Park, NY – which is still under construction – was damaged and vandalized with graffiti. The graffiti included phrases like “this aint ya trap sandn*****” and “Trump 2024 Make America Great Again!”

    “No community deserves to feel unsafe in their house of worship,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney Giselle Klapper. “As legal representatives for the gurdwara, the Sikh Coalition will continue to engage with local and federal law enforcement to ensure every appropriate action is taken to respond to this act of hate.”

    The graffiti was discovered on Tuesday afternoon and immediately reported to law enforcement. The gurdwara also retained the Sikh Coalition to provide free legal support and assist in the case. Law enforcement authorities responded quickly to the incident and continue working to make an arrest. In addition, the authorities are investigating the role bias likely played given the clear xenophobic rhetoric.

    “We were deeply saddened to discover these hateful messages graffitied. It is impossible not to feel pain in this moment, but we also draw inspiration from how Sikhs have always responded to incidents of hate with resilience and the Sikh spirit of chardi kala,” said Nassau County Sikh community member Anoop Singh. “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.”

    At this time, Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji New York respectfully requests that everybody refrains from visiting the gurdwara site. In the future, gurdwara leadership hopes to invite local community members of all faiths to visit the gurdwara once it is formally open. In addition, bringing media attention to this case was done for the express purpose of helping law enforcement identify potential suspects. That publicity work has already been effectively done and resulted in media coverage in local and national outlets, including Newsday, CBS News, NY Daily News, and the Washington Post. The Sikh Coalition will continue working directly with gurdwara leadership to prioritize safety and liaise with law enforcement as they conduct a thorough investigation.

    “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. We look forward to opening the gurdwara in the coming months and hope that all of our neighbors in Nassau County and beyond will visit us. By doing so, we hope to create a more connected community that values the common spirit within the hearts of all of humanity,” said Mr. Singh.

    The Sikh Coalition will continue to provide more updates on this case as they become available. In addition, we encourage you to be aware of your surroundings and know your rights. Download our FAQ on hate crimes and hate speech and learn how to report incidents to authorities and the Sikh Coalition. Also, review our Gurdwara Security Toolkit and share it with your gurdwara; if your gurdwara is interested in a free security consultation in English or Punjabi, please email community@sikhcoalition.org to get started.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.
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