Mayor Eric Adams joined Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, (D-AD38th) on Aug. 24, to denounce the hate and violence perpetuated against the Hindu shri Tulsi Mandir in Richmond Hill, whose Mahatma Gandhi statue was vandalized twice this month.
A group of vandals toppled the statue on Aug. 3, followed by the destruction of the effigy with a sledgehammer and graffitiing of the area with obscene names on Aug. 16. This inspired overwhelming support for the Hindu-American community in front of the house of worship to condemn the crime.
“Thank you so much Assemblywoman, or being a real partner as we fight to not only remove hate but to create an environment where hate will not fester and grow. We are investigating these acts of violence and ensuring that the persons who are responsible are brought to justice,” said Mayor Adams.
“The NYPD is investigating this act of violence. We are not going to stand back and allow attacks on our houses of worship. They play a crucial role in closing the gap between government and the needs of the people.”
“The goal is not only responding to hate but preventing hate. We are going to encourage you to participate in our Breaking Bread, Building Bonds, one hundred dinners across the city, everyone coming from different background, talking to each other, sharing who we are, and why we do what we do,” said Adams.
“We stand together with Jews, Christian, Sikhs, and all the other communities to say, we overcame COVID-19 because the globe came together to find a vaccine, now we will come together as citizens to find a vaccine of love to deal with the virus of hate.”
Calling him a champion, Assemblywomen Rajkumar said Adams gives one thousand percent of himself, and the community does the same for him.
She said Mahatma Gandhi inspired Martin Luther King Jr’s technique of non-violence and social change, noting that Hindus are a proud part of the American civil rights tradition,” said Rajkumar, the first Hindu-American elected to state office.
Quoting Gandhi, Rajkumar said, “Hatred can be overcome only by love. With the support we have received, I am more optimistic than ever that we will succeed in defeating these forces of hate.”
Romeo Hitlall, of the Federation of Hindu Mandirs, said, “we stand together against crime, and hate. But this hate brought extraordinary love from all over the world. Gandhi’s statue was destroyed but we are stronger than ever and will stand in solidity.”
Founder of the Tulsie Mandir Pandit Lakhram Maharaj stated, “Our statue of Mohandas Gandhi represented our Hindu values of love, respect, and peace. The statue may be gone, but the values it embodied will endure forever. What we want is not revenge against the perpetrators, but mutual understanding, not punishment, but healing.”
“Hate has no place in South Richmond Hill. The individuals who committed this cowardly act sought to inspire fear and anxiety, but we have chosen to respond with unity and solidarity. I stand together with Pandit Maharaj, Assemblywoman Rajkumar, and the entire Hindu community to denounce hate and promote justice,” said Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said, “Incidents such as this have no place in our city, especially not here in Queens — the most diverse county in the world. My Office is assisting the New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force in its investigation and when an arrest is made will carefully consider the appropriate charges.”
Assemblyman David Weprin, State Senator James Sanders Jr., the Hindu American Foundation Executive Director, Suhag Shukla, and other elected officials read messages to support the Hindu-American Community and condemned the acts of violence.
In the meantime, Andrew Arias, commanding officer of the hate crimes taskforce of the NYPD, stated that the unit will never tolerate any violence of any kind in New York City, and there is an active and ongoing investigation into the pattern of crime that was so callously committed in August.
“We are working with public and private partners, analyzing, and using technology and will not stop until justice is achieved to stair the investigation to a successful closure.” (1-800- 577- tips).