Queens lawmakers joined several community leaders outside Shri Tulsi Mandir South Richmond Hill on Tuesday, Aug. 9, to denounce a suspected hate crime incident that recently occurred at the Hindu temple.
On Aug. 3, three people allegedly vandalized and toppled a Mahatma Gandhi statue outside the mandir, located at 103-24 111th St., according to the lawmakers.
This comes after the vandalism of the Gandhi statue in Union Square in February, among other Gandhi statues desecrated around the world.
State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, who organized the press conference to address the issue, said the desecration of Gandhi statues and anti-Hindu hate crimes will not be tolerated in Richmond Hill or anywhere in New York state.
“At a time when our city is experiencing a 127% increase in hate crimes, elected officials and community leaders gathered together in my district at Tulsi Mandir to condemn hate crimes against any group based on their religion or ethnicity,” said Rajkumar, who passed a law creating the first-ever Asian American and Pacific Islander Commission in New York state, which will develop solutions to the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
A central tenet of Hinduism is inclusivity and mutual respect toward people of all faiths, Rajkumar said.
“Hindus believe not just intolerance, but in one step more than tolerance — actively loving and respecting people of different backgrounds and faiths. This was Mahatma Gandhi’s dream– a peaceful, loving world. We have achieved Gandhi’s dream in Richmond Hill, where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and Christians live together in harmony, often on the same block,” Rajkumar added.
Rajkumar called for the vandalism to be investigated as a hate crime and for the perpetrators to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The Hindu American Foundation and the Coalition of Hindus of North America, also joined to support the Hindu-American community in South Richmond Hill. Both organizations are calling upon local and federal law enforcement to investigate the attack and whether it is related to similar attacks on statues of Gandhi in other parts of the country.