New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Indian-American State Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar have unveiled a new Mahatma Gandhi statue, more than a year after the previous one was vandalised twice outside a Hindu temple in the state.
Located in front of Shri Tulsi Mandir on 111th Street in Richmond Hill, the Gandhi statue was knocked over, spray painted with the word “dog”, and battered with a sledgehammer on August 3 and 16, 2022.
“Last year, the statue of Gandhi that stood in South Richmond Hill was destroyed. But our solidarity and spirit to rebuild was not. Today, we stood with the community to say in one voice: Hate has no place in our city,” Mayor Adams said, unveiling the statue last week.
We embody the values of justice for which Gandhi gave his life,” Mayor Adams said at the event attended by members of the Indian-American community.
Rajkumar, who was at the forefront, calling for an investigation into the incident as a hate crime against Hindus and Indians, posted a video of the ceremony on X and said it was “exciting” to unveil the statue along with Mayor Adams.
“EXCITING! Watch myself and @NYCMayor unveil the new Mahatma Gandhi Statue at Tulsi Mandir at the site of last year’s hateful vandalism. It was a historic moment for our Richmond Hill community as we came together to show that our love will conquer all hate,” she wrote on X.
After the first attack, Rajkumar brought together several elected officials, including House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks, to condemn the attack and demand police action.
As the first Hindu elected to the New York State legislature, Rajkumar said, “When the Gandhi statue was vandalised, that really flew in the face of all of our beliefs and it’s very disturbing for the community”.
Assembly Member David Weprin, Council Member Lynn Schulman, and Pandit Lakhram Maharaj, founder of Shri Tulsi Mandir, were also present in the ceremony.
“In 2022, a hate crime was committed not once, but twice, against the Hindu community in #RichmondHill, with the destruction of the Gandhi statue in front of the Shri Tulsi Mandir. Many, including @JeniferRajkumar, @DavidWeprin and myself stood in solidarity against this hatred. Yesterday, I was proud to join with the community to unveil a new Gandhi statue,” Council Member Schulman wrote on X.
According to the New York Police Department (NYPD), six unidentified men — between 25 and 30 years — were spotted on surveillance video vandalising the statue, following which they fled after getting into two separate cars, a white Mercedes Benz and a dark Toyota Camry.
A month after the attack, 27-year-old Sukhpal Singh, who was part of a group, was arrested and charged with hate crimes.
Lakhram Maharaj had then said: “To see them coming after us like this is very painful… “I want to know why they did it”. As per NYPD data, in 2022, there were over 330 confirmed hate incidents — a 127 per cent increase when compared to the same period in 2020.
Read More: Gandhi’s call to action | Art Gallery of NSW