New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Indian American state assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar have announced a plan for a citywide campaign to educate the public on the generosity, inclusivity, and bravery of the Sikh people.
Adams And Rajkumar announced the plan at a gathering Sunday of hundreds of members of the Sikh American community at the Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Center temple in South Richmond Hill, in the wake of recent hate crimes against the community.
“We need to clearly educate people to what this community stands for and what you represent. You are not about terror: you are our protector,” Adams said.
Describing Rajkumar as “a partner with our law enforcement community and City Hall,” he complimented them for electing “the first Punjabi woman and first South Asian woman to Albany, and she has lived up to the expectation.”
“The recent crimes against the Sikh community were devastating. But, now it is time for us to get up and take action,” Rajkumar said calling herself a daughter of the Punjab, a State of North India.”
“As the first and only Punjabi elected to state office, I am your fighter in the halls of government,” she said. “Since I was a child, my uncle always told me, ‘The Sikhs are our protectors. The Sikhs are the protectors of society.’”
“But now, we need to ask who is protecting the Sikhs? And the answer is us,” Rajkumar said. “We will protect the Sikhs. New York City Mayor Eric Adams and I are both here. You are here. 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,” she said.
In 2021 alone, hate crimes against Sikh Americans across the country increased 140%, Rajkumar noted. “Sadly, Sikh-Americans are among our nation’s most targeted religious groups because of their distinct appearance, wearing turbans on their head.”
Recently, four Sikh Americans were fatally shot in the tragic mass shooting in Indianapolis. Last year, a 70-year-old Sikh man was assaulted in Queens. And now, the hateful incidents of last week, she recalled.
“Starting right now, we are going to end the hateful targeting of Sikhs,” Rajkumar said. ‘You have me, the first Punjabi elected official. And we have Mayor Eric Adams who will give us a national platform. You have our full 500% commitment.”
Describing Adams as a leader who “truly cares for the Sikh people from his heart, always elevating the Sikh faith in public,” Rajkumar said, “He is deeply committed to giving us a national platform. He is not only our leader, he is our hope.”
On behalf of the Sikh Community, Rajkumar presented a kirpan to Adam’s “ embolden you in the fight or our Sikh Community.” All Sikhs are required to carry a kirpan, which symbolizes the Sikh commitment to fight for the defenseless and for those who cannot fight for themselves, she noted.
“And today, we gift you with one, as we thank you for fighting for us and for your protection,” Rajkumar said. The sword is engraved with the words “NYC Mayor Adams is our protector”