Aug. 19, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar has called for the immediate arrest of six men who are wanted by police for destroying a statute of Mahatma Gandhi with a sledgehammer in South Richmond Hill Tuesday.
Rajkumar said that the hateful incident — which took place in front of the Hindu temple Tulsi Mandir at 103-26 111 St. — has shocked the entire borough and she wants the vandals apprehended without delay.
“I call for the perpetrators to be apprehended swiftly, charged, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Rajkumar, who is the first Hindu-American to be elected to the state legislature.
Police say that the six suspects, who are all aged between 25 and 30 years of age, smashed the statue with a sledgehammer at around 1:30 a.m. The statue was situated outside the front entrance of the building.
An image tweeted by Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol, a community safety group, shows the statue face down on the ground and debris from the sculpture strewn beside it.
The back of the statue was also spray-painted with the word “kutta,” which means dog in Hindi. The English word “dog” was also spray-painted on the ground beside the statue, the picture shows.
The alleged vandals, police say, then fled the scene on foot toward Liberty Avenue. Video footage released by police Thursday shows the suspects walking along the street, including one perpetrator who is casually carrying a sledgehammer over his shoulder.
The suspects then split up and got into two vehicles: a white-colored Mercedes Benz and a dark-colored sedan, possibly a Toyota Camry, police said.
Tuesday’s incident comes less than two weeks after the same statue was toppled over by a group of three suspects. It is unclear whether the incidents are related.
Police said The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is helping with both investigations.
Rajkumar said that she has received an outpouring of support from people throughout the borough — and from people around the world – following the latest incident.
“We always knew that defeating hate would not be accomplished in one day, one week, or even one year,” said Rajkumar, whose 38th District covers neighborhoods of Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Glendale.
“We are committed to this fight for the long term, and will use the Hindu principles of ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (soul force) that guided Gandhi himself and later the great American civil rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr.”
“With the support we have received… I am more optimistic than ever that we will succeed in defeating these forces of hate.”
Anyone with information in regard to these incidents is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/ or on Twitter @NYPDTips.