An Indian restaurant owned by a Sikh in the Sante Fe city in the US state of New Mexico was broken into and vandalised with hate messages scrawled on its walls, according to a media report.
The damage caused to India Palace restaurant is estimated to be worth USD 100,000, local Santa Fe Reporter newspaper reported on Tuesday. The vandalisation is being investigated by local police and the FBI, it said.
The Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund (SALDEF), a non-profit civil rights organisation, has condemned the incident. “This kind of hate and violence is unacceptable and swift action must be taken to ensure the safety and security of all Americans,” said SALDEF executive director Kiran Kaur Gill.
According to the local daily, tables were overturned, glassware was smashed into piles on the floor, wine racks were emptied, a statue of a goddess was beheaded and computers were stolen.
The vandals also turned over and destroyed food warmers, while the front desk area was gutted, plates smashed and the kitchen rendered completely unusable, it said. “I walked into the kitchen, I saw everything and I was like, hold on, what? What is going on here?” owner Baljit Singh told Santa Fe Reporter.
“White power, Trump 2020, go home, and far worse were spray-painted on walls, doors, counters and any other available surface. Some phrases contained threats of violence and derogatory racial slurs,” the daily said.
Santa Fe is a peaceful town, and the Sikh community has lived here, beautifully integrated, since the 60s, said SALDEF board member Simran Singh, who lives minutes away from the restaurant. Tensions have flared recently with the reinvigoration of the Black Lives Matter movement and the removal of statues associated with Spanish colonisers of this area, who committed a number of atrocities, he said.
Nevertheless, we are seeing an outpouring of love and support around the city and in my experience, our neighbours love and appreciate us, as we love and appreciate them, he added. SALDEF said that it has seen an unprecedented rise in hate crimes including the April 29 incident wherein a Sikh American Lakhwant Singh was brutally attacked by a man identified as Eric Breeman in Lakewood, Colorado. Lakhwant Singh was told to go back to your country, while being attacked. No formal hate crime charges have been brought against the attacker.