New York Congressman Tom Suozzi met with local Sikh community members in Richmond Hill on May 20, to discuss the latest attack on a Sikh person in the area, which saw a woman allegedly being pulled into a car at gunpoint shortly after leaving a gurdwara in the early afternoon of May 19.
The attack, which culminated with the woman allegedly being robbed, marks the fourth attack on a Sikh person in that area over the last six weeks.
According to Suozzi, rising crime rates, more relaxed bail reform and an increase of hateful language in New York City have each played a big role in the alarming rise in hate crimes against the Sikh community.
He also pointed out that some perpetrators likely view them as easier targets since it’s easier to identify them by the turbans they wear. Additionally, Suozzi blamed former President Donald Trump for normalizing offensive statements and actions against minority communities.
“The negative rhetoric from the previous administration has helped make it become common to attack each other based upon their differences,” Suozzi said. “We need to remember the fundamental American principle that all men and women are created equal.”
Suozzi, who is running to be the Democratic nominee for governor of New York, emphasized the importance of police funding and attempting to amend bail reform laws when crime rates, including hate crimes, are on the rise in New York City.
While some in the Sikh community expressed concern that the police weren’t acting with as much urgency as they would like, Suozzi said that’s why he feels it’s important to provide proper funding for the police, as it would help grant them the manpower and resources to prevent these crimes and better catch those who do commit them.
According to Suozzi, there have been too many instances where a criminal who committed a crime gets arrested, thrown in jail and is allowed to leave on bail only to commit another crime shortly after that. He believes amending bail reform could help better keep criminals off the streets and behind jail cells.
“We have an obligation to make everyone and every community feel safe in the United States, New York state and New York City,” Suozzi said.