Graffiti depicting “bias slurs and religious words” was spray-painted on the roof, windows and fence of a Sikh temple under construction in Floral Park Center, according to the Nassau County Police Department.
Officials said the vandalism occurred between Monday evening, Aug. 2, and the following evening at the temple located at 383 Jericho Turnpike. Officials also said a ladder was discovered leaning against the side of the building, which allowed an unidentified person to enter the temple through a window.
Efforts to reach a representative from the Police Department for further comment were unavailing.
“We were deeply saddened to discover hateful messages graffitied all over the site where a new gurdwara is being constructed for our community,” temple officials said in a statement. “Given the bigotry and backlash the Sikh community has experienced in the past, it is impossible not to feel pain in this moment.”
Officials from the Sikh Coalition, which oversees the various gurdwaras, or houses of worship, throughout the nation, said the organization continues to engage with local law enforcement as the investigation continues.
“No community deserves to feel unsafe in their house of worship,” Giselle Klapper, Sikh Coalition senior staff attorney, said in a statement. “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.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, in a statement on Friday, said she has been in contact with law enforcement officials and confirmed the investigation remains ongoing.
“The vandalism found on the Sikh temple is nothing less than an act of hatred and Nassau County has zero tolerance for this type of behavior,” Curran said in a statement. “We urge anyone who knows anything to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.”
Though the temple is not in the Village of New Hyde Park, New Hyde Park Mayor Christopher Devane said the incident “is a despicable act by a bunch of cowards.”
“We have a zero tolerance policy for intolerance in our Village,” Devane said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “We are proud of our tremendous diversity in our community.”
“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,” temple officials said.