He also gave a clarion call for educating people about Sikhism
New York, October 30, 2023: “You are not about terror; you are about protector. That is what needs to be taught throughout this entire city. Our young people need to know that, our adults need to know that,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, as he described the recent attacks and hate crimes against the community as a “stain” on the country and vowed to protect its members.
He also gave a clarion call for educating people about Sikhism.
‘The Sikh turban does not mean terrorism but symbolises faith, ” Adams said while addressing members of the Sikh community at the Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Centre in the Queens neighbourhood of South Richmond Hill.
Describing the Sikh community as an “anchor” in the Richmond Hill neighbourhood, Adams said: “Your turban does not mean terrorism. It means protecting, it means community, it means family, it means faith, it means city, it means us coming together. We will change the dialogue and narrative with you. We can do it together.
Adams and New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar met and addressed members of the Sikh community here on Sunday, in the wake of recent incidents of hate crime and assault against Sikhs.
On October 15, a 19-year-old Sikh boy was attacked by Christopher Philippeaux, 26, while he was riding the bus in Richmond Hill. Philippeaux punched the teenager in the back of the head, tried to knock off his turban and told him “We don’t wear that in this country.” Philippeaux has been charged with assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.
Within days of this, 66-year-old Jasmer Singh was attacked when his car collided with another vehicle. The driver of the other car, 30-year-old Gilbert Augustin, allegedly punched the elderly Sikh man three times in the head and face and Singh later succumbed to his injuries.
Describing the attack against Singh as a “violent senseless act”, Adams said, “Jasmer should still be with us. He should still be with his son. He should still be living out the American dream, watching his son, who’s now an immigration attorney.
“He should still be…part of this community. That dream turned into a nightmare the other day when his life was taken from us prematurely,” Adams said, flanked by Singh’s son Subeg Singh Multani and other members of the Sikh community.
Describing Sikhs as “protectors” of society, Rajkumar asserted that the hateful targeting of Sikhs is “not acceptable” and perpetrators of such violence would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of law.
Rajkumar said this was not the first time she had visited the gurdwara and had spoken out against hate crimes. “But it is the last time I want to be standing here speaking out against hate crimes. Starting now we are going to end the hateful targeting of Sikhs,” she said.
“For the first time, we are going to use the levers of government to end hate crimes against Sikh Americans. For the first time, we are going to come together and…educate…New York State, the United States and the entire world about who the Sikh people truly are so we are not attacked and misunderstood,” Rajkumar, the first Indian-American woman elected to New York State Office and who described herself as a “daughter of Punjab”, said.