NY Sikh House of Worship Vandalized with Hate Speech and “Trump 2024”
August 5, 2021 (New Hyde Park, NY) — Sometime between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon, a gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) still under construction in New Hyde Park, NY was damaged and vandalized with graffiti. The graffiti included phrases like “this aint ya trap sandn*****” and “Trump 2024 Make America Great Again!”
The graffiti was discovered on Tuesday afternoon at Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji New York and immediately reported to gurdwara leadership and law enforcement. Since then, the gurdwara has retained the Sikh Coalition to assist in the case. As of now, there has been no arrest, but our organization continues to engage with local and federal law enforcement to ensure every appropriate action is taken to respond to this act of hate.
Below is a statement from gurdwara leadership in response to this incident:
“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. But 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). 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.
For years, we have been looking forward to having a place of worship where our families can pray, be together, and give back to the community that we are so proud to be a part of. It is through humility that we can open doors for discussion and learn from each other. Along with that, our aspiration is that this gurdwara will serve as a learning place for children of all backgrounds so they do not just gain knowledge about Sikh history and traditions, but can also receive help on subjects like math, science, English, and art. We look forward to opening our doors in the coming months and hope that all of Nassau County will visit the gurdwara. By doing so, we hope to create a more connected community that values the common spirit within the hearts of all of humanity.
We are grateful that local law enforcement responded promptly and is investigating the role that bias may have played in this act of hate given the clear xenophobic rhetoric. We expect that the authorities will continue to share what they learn when they can.”
Below is a statement from Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney Giselle Klapper (she/her):
“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.”
Although the Sikh community has lived in the United States for over a century and made vital contributions to the culture and economy, Sikhs continue to face hate violence, harassment, and discrimination at alarmingly high rates. Since the FBI began tracking anti-Sikh hate in 2015, they have consistently categorized anti-Sikh violence within the five most targeted religious communities. This vandalism occurred days before the ninth anniversary of the Oak Creek, WI gurdwara mass shooting. On August 5, 2012 a neo-Nazi gunman murdered six Sikhs and injured several more. At the time, it was the worst mass shooting inside an American house of worship in nearly 50 years.
We will continue to provide more updates on this case as they become available.