27 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 22, 2022 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Sikh community leaders and residents speak at a rally denouncing the recent attacks against three Sikh men in Richmond Hill.
Richmond Hill Sikh community leaders rally
for peace in light of recent hate crime attacks
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
In light of recent attacks against three Sikh
men, community leaders and residents were
gathered for a rally in Richmond Hill on Th ursday,
April 14, calling for justice, peace and unity.
Rain couldn’t deter members of the Sikh
community from praying for peace at the
corner of 101st Avenue and Leff erts Boulevard,
also known as Little Punjab.
“We want to make sure that this hate is no more.
Th is hate does not belong in our city, in our state
and in our country,” said Japneet Singh, community
leader and rally organizer. “We have people
here from the Guyanese community, Trinidadian
community, white, Black and Latino community
supporting us. We want to make sure that this
doesn’t happen again to anyone!”
Th e rally was held in response to two separate
attacks on three Sikh men, who went for
an early morning walk on 95th Avenue and
Leff erts Boulevard nearby the Sikh Cultural
On April 3, a man approached Nirmal Singh,
70, and punched him from behind, leaving him
with a broken nose. A week later, two men —
Gulzar Singh and Sajjan Singh Ghotra — were
attacked and their turbans were removed. On
April 14, the NYPD arrested 19-year-old Vernon
Douglas of Brooklyn, who is facing hate
crime charges for the vicious attack on Nirmal.
For the second case, police caught one of the
two suspects and charged him with a hate crime
“I was confused as to why they attacked me,”
one of the victims said at the rally.
Harmin Singh, a local businessman who has
been living in the community for over 20 years,
said the attacks were unacceptable.
“We have contributed to this society like no
one can imagine. Every morning I say hi to
people passing by, and we have so much love.
We work hard. We go to work. We don’t bother
anyone. It is unbelievable what happened,”
“All lives matter,” said Sukhjinder Singh
Nijjar of the Sikh Cultural Society. “We have
red blood and diff erent colored skin, but our
skin color doesn’t matter. We live here and are
protecting our community.”
Bronx community leader Cliff ord Temprosa,
who immigrated from the Philippines to the
U.S., cited the injustice, hate and xenophobia
Photos by Lloyd Mitchell
that has long plagued immigrant communities
throughout the nation.
“Th e Sikh community is my ally. We all need
to look at each other as brothers and sisters
walking down the street,” said Temprosa, who
also helped organize the rally.
District Leader Richard David called for
resources and funding to help immigrant communities
and local organizations on the ground
in response to hate crime violence.
“Th is is a testament to the strength of our
community. Despite the rain, we came with
one message: hate has no place in Richmond
Hill or New York City,” David said.
According to community leader Albert
Baldeo, they’re going to hold government offi -
cials accountable to ensure safety and equitable
services in the community.
“We have paid our taxes and have built this
community. Th is is our home and we are not
going to leave. We want to make sure that our
community is safe, and our kids can grow up
and live the American dream. Th at fi ght continues
with each generation,” Baldeo said.
Speaking on behalf of City Council Speaker
Adrienne Adams,Jamal Wilkerson said the
councilwoman stands with the Sikh community
and is calling for everyone to stand
together against hate and bigotry.
“We can no longer be separated. We need
to be together, move forward together, fi ght
together and love together,” Wilkerson said.
“Th e more we love and understand that we
have so much more in common, the better our
communities will be.”
The second victim, Sajjan Singh Ghotra, who was
attacked on April 12, speaks at the rally.
BY BILL PARRY
A Brooklyn man was arraigned in Queens
Criminal Court in Kew Gardens on Saturday,
April 16, and charged in the Richmond Hill
bias attacks that left three Sikh men injured
over the last two weeks, according to Queens
District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Brooklyn resident Vernon Douglas, 19,
was charged with hate crimes for allegedly
attacking and robbing three men in separate
incidents near the intersection of 95th Avenue
and Leff erts Boulevard between April 3 and
April 12. A second man, Hezekia Coleman, 20,
of Richmond Hill, is also charged with Douglas
in connection to one of the attacks.
Douglas was arraigned before Queens
Criminal Court Judge Anthony Battisti on a
13-count criminal complaint charging him
with robbery in the fi rst and second degree as
a hate crime, assault in the second degree of an
elderly person over 65, three counts of assault
in the third degree as a hate crime and three
counts of aggravated harassment in the second
degree as a hate crime.
Coleman, of 118th Street in Richmond Hill,
was arraigned before Queens Criminal Court
Judge Mary Lentz on a fi ve-count complaint
charging him with robbery in the fi rst and
second degree and assault in the second degree.
According to the criminal charges, at approximately
6:45 a.m. on April 3, Douglas approached
70-year-old Nirmal Singh as he was
walking to the Sikh Cultural Society Temple
when the victim was assaulted near the intersection
of 95th Avenue and Leff erts Boulevard.
Th e victim, a tourist from Canada, was wearing
a turban. Doulas allegedly punched the victim
several times in the face and head. Th e victim
was transported by private means to Jamaica
Hospital Medical Center, where he was treated
for a broken nose and bruising to his right eye.
According to the complaint, during the
second incident at the same location on April
12, at approximately 7 a.m., Douglas, shirtless
and carrying a stick, approached a 45-year-old
man wearing a turban. Douglas allegedly hit
the victim several times with the stick, striking
him in the head and face and then punched
him several times, again aiming for the man’s
head and face. During the volley of blows, the
victim’s wallet was dislodged from his pocket
and fell to the ground. Th e defendant allegedly
picked it up, removed $300 in cash, threw the
wallet to the ground and then fl ed the scene.
Th e victim was taken to a local hospital, where
he required stitches to his forehead and treatment
for his injuries.
Minutes later, at the same location, the
defendant, still shirtless, approached a third
victim, 58, and allegedly hit him multiple times
in the head and face with a stick, causing the
man’s turban to fall from his head.
If convicted, both Douglas and Coleman
face up to 25 years in prison.