April 13, 2022 By Allie Griffin (updated)
Two Sikh men were targeted and attacked in Richmond Hill Tuesday morning in the same location where a 70-year-old Sikh man was assaulted just over a week ago, according to the police.
The men, aged 76 and 64, were violently beaten by two men with a wooden stick near the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and 95th Avenue — the same spot where the 70-year-old was punched in the face by a stranger on April 3. The incidents are all being investigated as potential hate crimes, police said.
At about 7 a.m. Tuesday, the two attackers approached the victims and beat them with their bare fists as well as a wooden stick. They tore off the men’s turbans, tugged on their beards and punched them about the head and body, according to police and local community leader Japneet Singh.
Singh posted a video showing the apparent aftermath of the assault. One man can be seen holding his eye and another is sitting on the sidewalk surrounded by police officers and firefighters.
EMS transported both victims to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in stable condition, police said. One of the victims received stitches above his eye, Singh said.
Singh and other Sikh community leaders in Richmond Hill condemned the assault and called it an act of hatred.
“This is the exact fear we had when this happened last week,” Singh, who is running for State Senate, wrote on Instagram. “Same location, same intersection, same act of HATE.’
Police took one of the suspects into custody at the scene of the attack. Charges against him are pending and the second individual remains at large.
The NYPD could not confirm if the same individuals involved in Tuesday’s assault were involved in the April 3 attack. However, police have released photos of the suspect in the earlier case.
Several Queens elected officials condemned the violence.
“Extremely disturbed to hear another Sikh individual was attacked in Richmond Hill today,” Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi posted on Twitter Tuesday. “My office is monitoring the situation and staying in contact with the 102nd Precinct. We will always stand strong as one against bigotry and hate.”
His colleague Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar, one of the first members of Indian ancestry elected to the Assembly, issued a statement saying that she has “zero tolerance” for hate crimes against the Sikh community.
“I spoke to the NYPD soon after both of this week’s incidents against my Sikh American family,” she said in a statement. “I am calling for both incidents to be investigated as hate crimes, and that the perpetrators be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Council Members Lynn Schulman and Joann Ariola also denounced the assault.
“This morning, a leisurely stroll turned tragic when two members of the Sikh community were targeted for their faith,” Ariola posted on Twitter Tuesday. “…We must join together as a city and show that this kind of bigotry will not be tolerated.”
Singh said the Sikh community is being targeted, and called on state and city leaders, including the governor, mayor, city council speaker and Queens district attorney, to address the issue.
“This is disgusting behavior, and it’s clear the Sikh community is being deliberately targeted,” he wrote.
Singh told the Queens Post that many Sikh residents who have built a home in the enclave of Richmond Hill– known by many as Little Punjab—now worry that are going to be attacked.
“For [the attacks] to happen in our home that we call Little Punjab — a lot of people are very saddened and just scared,” he said.
Singh said he hasn’t seen such a prevalence of prejudice and hate towards the Sikh community since the time following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
Overall, hate crimes were up 16 percent last month compared to the same time last year, according to NYPD data. The department doesn’t report specific data on hate crimes against South Asians, although hate crimes against all Asian Americans have skyrocketed in the past two years.
According to Rajkumar, there has been a 200 percent rise in hate crimes against the Sikh community in recent years.
Singh said the community has appreciated the outpouring of support. However, he added that elected officials need to do more than release statements and host press conferences condemning the attacks to protect the community. He said they need to take action.
“It hasn’t been this bad since post-9/11,” he said. “That’s not a good sign for our city.”
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