NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Vandals hit a Sikh temple under construction on Long Island earlier this week, spray painting messages of intolerance.
But as CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported Thursday, the community is determined to turn the the moment of hate into awareness.READ MORE: Small Plane Crash-Lands On Long Island After Experiencing Engine Failure
The pristine white fence shrouding the new Sikh gurdwara, or house of worship, in the village of New Hyde Park is now covered in black graffiti. Messages ranging from benign words like “Hi there” to racial slurs, religious and political phrases referencing Jesus as the only God, and former President Donald Trump.
“The Sikh community is deeply saddened by this act of hate,” said Sahej Preet Singh of the Sikh Coalition.
Police say sometime between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon, the vandals targeted the temple’s facade, windows and roof, scrawling words designed to intimidate and create fear.READ MORE: Suffolk Police: Franklyn Charles, 18, Charged In Crash That Killed Jennifer Figueroa, 30, In Wyandanch
“The Sikh community has always been very resilience and we always operate on the principal of optimum positivity,” Singh said. “We hope that this act, even though it was probably done to instill fear and spread more hate, we hope that this helps us in spreading more awareness about the Sikh community and also to create more positivity around us.”
As temple leaders gathered to discuss ways to move forward, village Mayor Chris Devane called the incident unacceptable.
“Whoever the idiots are responsible for this, the community is going to rally around this. They are not going to succumb to the fear of that situation,” Devane said.
Devane said the village is creating a neighborhood watch group to fight acts of intolerance and make sure everyone in the community feels safe.
“Another set of eyes, another set of ears to go around the temple, to go around the 99 Cent Store, the memorial park, be there for the Road School when the kids get dismissed. We’re making concerted efforts to incorporate everybody. We’re also making efforts to try to stamp out these type of stupid people trying to doing stupid things,” Devane said.MORE NEWS: Parts Of Cross Island Parkway To Close Sunday For LIRR Work Near UBS Arena
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Nassau County Police Department.